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At Least 3 Dead in School Shooting

March 24, 1998

JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) _ Two boys in camouflage ambushed a group of middle school students Tuesday as they assembled outside during a fake fire alarm. At least three people were shot to death and 12 wounded.

Two suspects _ ages 11 and 13 _ were taken into custody after the 12:40 p.m. CST shooting outside Westside Middle School.

Two of the wounded were teachers, said Connie Tolbert, secretary to school superintendent Grover Cooper.

Craighead County Sheriff Dale Haas cried as he gave the announcement confirming the shootings: ``There are 15 students shot and two are dead, mostly little girls. The two young boys believed to be the shooters, one of them was 11 and the other 13.″

St. Bernards Regional Medical Center later reported a third death.

The suspects were lying in wait in nearby woods, Haas said.

``Someone pulled the fire alarm inside and they went outside, and two people in camouflage clothing started shooting,″ Ms. Tolbert said. A search was under way for that person.

The boys were taken to the county jail. Two rifles and other weapons were recovered, Haas said.

The school has about 250 students in sixth and seventh grades. Authorities wouldn’t say whether the suspects were students at the school.

Jonesboro is a city of 46,000 about 130 miles northeast of Little Rock.

It was at least the third fatal shooting rampage in a school in the past five months.

On Dec. 1, a youth opened fire on a student prayer circle in a hallway at Heath High School in West Paducah, Ky. Three students were killed and five others wounded. A 14-year-old student, described as small and emotionally immature, was arrested.

Two months earlier, a 16-year-old outcast in Pearl, Miss., was accused of killing his mother, then going to school and shooting nine students. Two of them died, including the boy’s ex-girlfriend. Authorities later accused six friends with conspiracy, saying the suspects were part of a group that dabbled in satanism.

Closer to here, a sniper who holed up in the woods wounded two students Dec. 15 outside a school in the southwestern Arkansas town of Stamps. The two, both wounded in the hip, were hospitalized overnight. A 14-year-old boy was arrested after a manhunt.

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