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Jonesboro shooter faces new theft charge

Jonesboro Shooter
Jonesboro school shooter Mitchell Johnson, center, walks past members of the media during a lunch break from his trial at the Federal Building in this Jan. 29, 2008 file photo in Fayetteville, Ark.Beth Hall / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

One of the men who killed a teacher and four students in a school shooting a decade ago faces two new felony charges accusing him of stealing a debit card as he awaited sentencing in a separate case.

A federal jury convicted Mitchell Johnson, 23, of a weapons charge in January. On Feb. 2, Bentonville police arrested Johnson after officers said they found a small amount of marijuana in his possession while he worked as a clerk at a local Fast Trip gas station.

Charges filed Wednesday in Benton County Circuit Court allege Johnson took a debit card left by a Fast Trip customer. Johnson faces felony charges of theft and identity fraud that could bring up to 30 years in prison. Among other things, a police affidavit said, the card was used for purchases at the gas station and at a fast-food restaurant.

In 1998, Johnson, then 13, and Andrew Golden, then 11, opened fire at Jonesboro Westside Middle School, killing an English teacher and four students ages 11 and 12. Ten other people were wounded. It was one of a series of schoolboy shootings that shocked the nation around that time, including the Columbine massacre in Colorado the following year.

At the time of the Jonesboro shooting, Arkansas had the means to hold Johnson and Golden only until age 18. Federal prosecutors secured convictions on weapons charges that kept them in prison until age 21.

Convictions and arrests
He got in trouble again in January 2007 when deputies in northwest Arkansas said they found marijuana in his pocket during a traffic stop. Though Johnson initially faced a misdemeanor, federal prosecutors took over the case under a law barring gun ownership by users of a controlled substance.

He was convicted in that case last month and faces up to 10 years in prison. Bond was revoked after his February arrest and he remains held in the Benton County Jail until his sentencing date.

Benton County Prosecutor Van Stone said Johnson also could face a misdemeanor drug possession charge from his February arrest.

"We hope the federal authorities will be able to use this most recent arrest and charge as part of their sentencing," Stone said.

Court officials said their records showed no attorney assigned to the new case. John B. Schisler, Johnson's federal public defender in the weapons case, said Thursday he had no comment on the new charges.