In the early afternoon of March 24, 1998, just one day after the end of spring break, school was in session. An unscheduled fire alarm sounded at Westside Middle School, near Jonesboro, Arkansas. The alarm caused the student body and faculty to evacuate the building. As eighty-seven students and nine teachers evacuated the building, two boys (ages eleven and thirteen) began firing at the group with various weapons, including handguns and semi-automatic and bolt action rifles. Thirty rounds were fired and when the shooting stopped one teacher and four students were dead and nine other students and another teacher were injured.
Shannon Wright, was a sixth-grade teacher and only 32 when she died after surgery for bullet wounds to her chest and abdomen. She was beloved by her students, her husband and her son, only two when his mother was taken from him. The two boys could not be charged as adults under Arkansas law, and served only the time between their imprisonment and their 21st birthdays in a reform institute. When the boys were released on their 21st birthday their records were cleared. Because of this incident Arkansas changed its laws to allow child murderers to be imprisoned past the age of 21.