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Jonesboro shooter arrested on drug charge

Jonesboro Shooter
Mitchell Johnson, who along with another boy killed 5 people and wounded 10 in the Jonesboro, Ark., school shooting in 1998, faces up to 10 years on a subsequent federal weapons charge. AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Jonesboro school shooter Mitchell Johnson, already facing sentencing on a federal weapons charge, was arrested on a charge of misdemeanor drug possession, police said Monday.

Johnson, 23, was arrested Saturday night at a convenience store where he worked as a clerk, Bentonville police Lt. Jon Simpson said. Officers went to the store just before 8 p.m. after receiving a call that someone had lost their credit card there and that the card had been used at the store by someone else, Simpson said.

An officer suspected Johnson, and he consented to a search, police said. Authorities found a bag in his pocket containing marijuana, but he was not charged with using the stolen credit card, Simpson said.

A federal jury convicted Johnson last week of possessing a gun while being a user of or addicted to a controlled substance stemming from a New Year's Day 2007 arrest in northwest Arkansas. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Johnson could face a year in jail and a $1,000 fine if convicted of misdemeanor drug possession.

Federal probation officers and prosecutors want Johnson's $5,000 bond revoked, Deputy U.S. Marshal Mark Spellman said.

John B. Schisler, Johnson's federal public defender in the weapons case, said Monday that he was aware of Johnson's arrest and had no comment.

Testimony at Johnson's two-day trial last month showed the convicted killer got a job at a Wal-Mart store and routinely smoked marijuana with friends after his release. The night of his 2007 arrest, Johnson told officers of his plans to move to California and begin life again.

Five killed in '98 massacre
In 1998, Johnson, then 13, and Andrew Golden, then 11, shot at students and teachers at Jonesboro Westside Middle School in northeastern Arkansas after Golden pulled a fire alarm. The boys killed English teacher Shannon Wright and students Natalie Brooks, 11; Paige Herring, 12; Stephanie Johnson, 12; and Britthney Varner, 11. They wounded 10 others.

At the time of the schoolyard massacre, Arkansas had the means to hold Johnson and Golden only until age 18. Federal prosecutors acted before the boys' birthdays, securing convictions on weapons charges that kept them in prison until age 21.

Johnson's arrest Saturday should influence his federal pre-sentencing report, said Jeffery T. Walker, a criminology professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Walker said that arrest would be included in the report's narrative about Johnson but wouldn't count as part of an overall score that offers guidance to a judge during sentencing.

Simpson said police continue to investigate who used the missing credit card at the store and Johnson remained a suspect in the case.