Fourth girl dies in Amish school shooting

A fourth girl has died after a brutal Amish schoolhouse shooting in rural Pennsylvania, while seven others remain in critical condition.

The 32-year-old gunman, a milk-truck driver, turned the gun on himself after his shooting spree at the Lancaster County school, police officials said Monday.

He was found slumped on the floor of the schoolhouse with an automatic handgun and a shotgun nearby. Investigators also found several hundred rounds of ammunition, knives and a stun gun.

State Police Commissioner Jeffrey Miller said the man, identified as area resident Charles Carl Roberts IV, left what were described as rambling notes for his wife, saying that he would not be home.

He indicated in the notes that he was seeking revenge for something that happened 20 years ago.

Roberts, a father of three, entered the schoolhouse on Monday morning after dropping his own children off at a bus stop, police said.

He sent the school’s 15 male students out of the schoolhouse, along with three women with infants and a pregnant woman.

Then, as police surrounded the schoolhouse, he ordered the young female students to line up in front of the blackboard. He bound their feet and shot most of them at point-blank range.

“He shot his victims in the head execution style,” Miller told reporters at a press conference Monday, adding that one of the girls died in the arms of a policeman.

“It appeared the shooter entered the school with the intention of taking hostages…it seems as though he wanted to attack young female victims and this school was close to his home.”

Students at the school are between the ages of six and 13. But one of the slain girls was a teacher’s aide, and so slightly older.

One of the teachers sent out of the schoolhouse called emergency services and police surrounded the one-room school late Monday morning.

The Lancaster County 911 website reported that dozens of emergency units were dispatched to a “medical emergency” at 10:45 a.m.

Some two hours later, about three dozen people wearing traditional Amish clothing, hats and bonnets were seen congregating near the small school building.

Miller said the seven injured girls were taken to various hospitals — some with very serious injuries.

Three were taken to Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. But according to hospital spokesperson Sean Young, officials have had difficulty contacting family members.

Young said that by late Monday, only one of the victims at the hospital had been visited by relatives.

“This has been one of the challenges,” Young told Newsnet. “You’re dealing with a community that is very close-knit, but at the same time doesn’t rely a great deal on telecommunications infrastructure. So you can’t just call them on their cellphones.”

In an interview with CNN, Miller said two of the seven victims were in “a very dire critical condition at this time on life support so it would take a miracle for us not to lose more lives today.”

The school, which serves between 20 and 30 students from grades one through to eight, is located among just outside Nickel Mines — a tiny village about 88 kilometres west of Philadelphia.

The tiny schoolhouse is surrounded by a white fence and farm fields. Officials said Roberts was not Amish, and likely chose the school because it was close and had no security.

Amish schools

Elizabethtown College Amish Studies professor Donald Kraybill, who lives in Lancaster County himself, told CNN the schools are generally very safe facilities.

“They are out in rural areas, they are typically are one-room facilities operated by Amish parents and so they usually are not any security concerns or security risks in the schools and so this is quite a shock,” Elizabethtown College professor Donald Kraybill, who lives in Lancaster County himself, told CNN.

“These are quiet, gentle settings and so this would be a tremendous shock to the children because they wouldn’t have been exposed to this kind of thing on television,” said Kraybill, who is one of the world’s most foremost experts on the Amish.

The Amish, who are united by a common Swiss-German ancestry, have their roots in the early Anabaptist Christian movement in Europe.

They believe in a lifestyle of humility and traditional values separate from the rest of the world and their rules restrict the use of modern devices such as gasoline-powered transportation and telephones.

But Kraybill explained that they generally hold “amiable” relationships with their non-Amish neighbours.

The shooting in Pennsylvania followed reports earlier on Monday of lockdowns at two schools in the Las Vegas area as police looked for an armed youth.

The incident was the third fatal shooting at an American school in a week.

On Friday, a 15-year-old student fatally wounded his school’s principal in western Wisconsin.

On Wednesday, a drifter in Colorado took six female high school students hostage, molested them and then shot one to death and killed himself as police closed in.

With files from The Associated Pres


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,, Oct. 2, 2006,

Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday October 3, 2006.
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