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6 Teens Arrested in School Rampage

October 8, 1997

PEARL, Miss. (AP) _ Six teen-agers were charged Tuesday with murder conspiracy in connection with a rampage last week in which a 16-year-old allegedly stabbed his mother to death and fatally shot two schoolmates.

Police Chief Bill Slade would not say what role the students are alleged to have played in the killing spree.

``We are still conducting an investigation,″ he said. ``That’s all I can say.″

Television station WLBT-TV in Jackson, however, reported that copies of affidavits it had obtained alleged that all six plotted to kill students at Pearl High School, and that two suspects also were accused of plotting to kill their fathers.

The lawyer for one of the two said his client is innocent.

Attorney James Bell also said Donald Brooks Sr. ``fully supports″ his 17-year-old son, Donald Jr.

The arrests began Monday night. The teen-agers _ five of them students at Pearl High School, where the shooting rampage took place Oct. 1 _ pleaded innocent and were jailed on $1 million bail each.

Among those arrested was 16-year-old Justin Sledge, a close friend of Luke Woodham, the teen-ager accused in the rampage.

Last week, Sledge provided news organizations with what he said was a document written by Woodham, in which Woodham claimed to have planned the killings. Sledge said Woodham gave him the papers on the morning of the shooting.

Woodham had been picked on by other students, who called him a nerd and knocked his books out of his hands. In the letter provided by Sledge, he said: ``I am not insane. I am angry. I killed because people like me are mistreated every day. I did this to show society push us and we will push back.″

Merrida Coxwell, Sledge’s lawyer, said the affidavit filed against his client did not name any victims.

``It doesn’t even connect them with Woodham,″ Coxwell said. ``They (police) certainly better be doing more than investigating to name a student with crime.″

June Goodin, whose 18-year-old son Delbert Shaw was also arrested, said he has been living with her for the past two weeks in Louisville, about 90 miles northeast of Pearl, and was not in Pearl at the time of the shootings.

``I can’t believe what is happening,″ she said. ``They wouldn’t even give me a chance to get near him.″

School Board attorney Skip Jernigan said the teen-agers ``loosely referred to by themselves as `the group.‴

Police say Woodham, distraught over a breakup with his girlfriend, walked into the crowded school before class, pulled a rifle from under his trench coat and opened fire. His former girlfriend and another girl were killed and seven students were wounded. Woodham was arrested as he tried to drive off.

Police say a few hours before the school shootings, Woodham stabbed his mother to death at their home. He has pleaded innocent to three counts of murder and seven counts of aggravated assault.

The crime shocked this quiet community of 22,000 people.

Police removed three students from class and took them into custody Tuesday.

Sledge was not at the school; he was serving a five-day suspension for allegedly disrupting a candlelight vigil last Thursday in honor of his slain classmates.

The other three arrested were: Wesley Brownell, 17; Daniel Thompson, 16; and Grant Boyette, 18, of Brandon, who attends the local community college.

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