Jonesboro massacre: Quiet woman who became a heroine

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The Independent Online
AS the survivors of Tuesday's schoolyard carnage in Jonesboro, Arkansas, returned in grief and shock to classes yesterday, the husband of a teacher who was shot dead while shielding one of her pupils pleaded that the two boys accused of the attack be treated as adults by the state courts, writes David Usborne.

Shannon Wright, 32, is being hailed as a heroine as details emerge of how she pushed aside Emma Pittman, a 12-year-old pupil at Westside Middle School, to shield her from the bullets. Four pupils and Mrs Wright died in the ambush. Nine other students and another teacher were wounded.

Susan Pittman, Emma's mother, has asked that a posthumous award be given to Mrs Wright for her bravery.

"I feel she needs a hero award for saving our child. I want her family to know how grateful and thankful we are because she didn't think of herself, she thought of the children," Mrs Pittman said.

While most grieving family members have shied away from comment, Mrs Wright's husband, Mitchell Wright, told the Jonesboro Sun of his dismay that the two boys accused in the ambush, Andrew Golden, 11, and Mitchell Johnson, 13, can only be tried as juveniles. This means that even if the boys are found guilty they will walk free as soon as they turn 18.

Andrew and Mitchell were charged on Wednesday with murder and battery and are accused of setting off a fire alarm in the school and spraying pupils and teachers with gunfire as they filed out.

"They are children, but it was pretty much premeditated," Mr Wright said. "As premeditated as it was, and as thought out as it was, it was more like an adult thinking, not a child. I think they should spend the rest of their lives in prison and we all know that's not going to happen."

In Arkansas convicts guilty of this type of murder would usually face the death penalty.

Mr Wright corrected reports that his wife had been pregnant. Doctors performing surgery on her before she died on Tuesday evening had at first thought that she was carrying a child. The Wrights have a two-year- old son, Zane.

Only last week the three of them went on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday to Walt Disney World in Florida.

Mr Wright added: "When you lose your wife, I don't think it matters that it was a child did it or a grown up who did it. My little boy ... it's not going to matter to him who killed her."

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