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EDITIONS
Thursday, 26 March, 1998, 15:06 GMT
'This happens somewhere else'
Three of the victims (from left to right): Paige Ann Herring, Natalie Brooks, Stephanie Johnson
"There were children, mostly female, lying everywhere," said Jonesboro ambulance driver, Rick Elder. "You think of this happening somewhere else. Not here."

Shock, horror and dismay have swept the small city of Jonesboro, Arkansas, in the wake of an armed attack outside a school on Tuesday. The students were victims of an ambush by two of their male classmates, aged 11 and 13.

The community never expected this
The community never expected this
After a false fire alarm, students were sprayed with bullets by the two heavily-armed boys. At first, the children thought the noise was construction or fireworks.

"We thought it was just firecrackers," said one student, Brandy George. "I saw one of my teachers get shot. I started running towards the gym."

The attack left four young girls and one teacher dead.

As parents searched frantically for their children, the news was made all the worse by the fact that the attackers were themselves so young.

Attack highlights widespread problem

The tragedy and grief in Jonesboro has drawn attention to similar violence at American schools.

President Bill Clinton, on a visit to Kampala, Uganda, said in a statement that he and the First Lady were "deeply shocked and heartbroken".

Students mourn their schoolmates
Students mourn their schoolmates
"We don't know now and we may never fully understand what could have driven two youths to deliberately shoot into a crowd," Mr Clinton, the former governor of Arkansas, said.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and the entire Jonesboro community."

The incident was the third fatal shooting at a US school in five months and the fourth in which a gunman has opened fire on a group of school children.

In the southern state of Mississippi last year, a teenager was accused of shooting nine schoolmates, killing two. Weeks later, in Kentucky, a 14-year-old boy opened fire on students praying in a hallway. Three were killed.

Police have not commented on the motive for the crime in Jonesboro. Local reports say that the two boys may have been disciplined recently.

But one classmate said one of the suspects had recently broken up with his girlfriend.

"He told me after seventh period [on Monday] that he was never going to see me again and I wouldn't be able to see him again because he was going to run away," said Jennifer Nightingale.

Unfortunately, no one believed him.

"We're not gonna get over this in a day or two," one woman who worked in the school said. "It's gonna hurt us."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
bbc
BBC Correspondent Maurice Walsh: the shock of 'kids killing kids' (40')
bbc
Ralph Lee, Mayor of neighbouring town Bono :'It has been devastating' (3'42')
BBC
Sherriff Dale Haas describes the scene (33')
See also:

25 Mar 98 | Americas
25 Mar 98 | US shooting
25 Mar 98 | US shooting
26 Mar 98 | US shooting
25 Mar 98 | US shooting
Links to more US shooting stories are at the foot of the page.


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