Mitchell Johnson, one half of the duo convicted of committing the "Westside Middle School massacre" near near Jonesboro, AR, is currently incarcerated in Florida, serving time on unrelated charges. In 1988, the then 13-year-old Johnson teamed with 11-year-old Andrew Golden, shooting in an ambush style from the woods in camouflaged clothes, killing four students and one teacher, and wounding ten others.
Originally released in 2005, Johnson landed back in jail after additional legal trouble in both 2007 and 2008. In the wake of Monday's Chardon (OH) High School shooting, Johnson spoke exclusively with "Piers Morgan Tonight" on the phone from prison, and emailed this blog post offering his reactions to this week's tragedy:
My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this senseless tragedy. I pray for healing of those wounded and the eventual healing of the family of the person(s) lost, that their families grow closer together and find it in their hearts to forgive this young man, as I have been forgiven by many of those I have wrongfully hurt when I was a child. Violence is never the answer and never resolves the true issues behind an incident like this. It only causes harm, deep holes in lives that can never be fully repaired. I am sorry for all involved and pray meaning and end comes from this. The young man who is responsible has a very long road ahead and a lot to answer for. My prayer's and understanding go out to him as well. It is not condoned by me, as I am truly sorry for my actions when so young as well, but I pray he accepts responsibility and learns from this that violence did not solve these issues; only pain and suffering has come of this. The violence needs to end, understanding needs to come to our children and adults alike; warning signs need to be heeded to and parents need to be more aware of their children's actions, what they are doing and listening to, and who they are hanging around with. Kids, if you are suffering from bullying, abuse (whether verbal, physical, or sexual) please speak out and get help. Find someone you trust and tell them. Open up and tell your parents. Make them listen to you. That is where I went wrong; I should have reached out for help but kept silent. Don’t follow in my shoes, it was wrong of me and is wrong of this young man. Violence as a whole is wrong!!! Please stop this, and join me in trying to speak out against this epidemic that plagues our Nation today. Again, I pray for all those effected and my thoughts and remorse go out to those hurt, and to the families of those lost, and to the family of this young man and to him as well.
The opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of Mitchell Johnson.