On October 2nd of 2006, a crazed gunman burst into a one room school house in an Amish community, forced some of the people out, and eventually opened fire.
The day had started off normally enough at the little Amish schoolhouse known as the West Nickel Mines School in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. However, sometime during the morning hours, Charles Carl Roberts IV entered the school room. That's when events took a hideous turn.
Charles Carl Roberts IV forced all of the boys, pregnant women, and women with babies to leave the room, then took ten girls as hostages. Then Roberts made a call to his wife on his cell phone, explaining that he was mad at God for taking his baby daughter away back in 1997. Eerily, those girls he attacked were around the same age his daughter would have been, had she survived. Maybe she would have attended that school. Roberts also told his wife that he had molested two little girls who were his relatives 20 years earlier when he was 12 years old, and that he “dreamed of” molesting again. However, the two family members Roberts mentioned later insisted that no such event had ever occurred.
The girls, all between the ages of six and thirteen, were forced to line up against the blackboard, as one lady and a child managed to escape an ran for help. The lady and child were able to run to the nearest farmhouse, from where they called the police. When the police approached the one room school house, Roberts opened fire, shooting and killing five girls, and severely wounding five more, before finally turning the gun on himself. One of the survivors was permanently disabled, and has not been able to speak or walk since the shooting.
An investigation revealed that Charles Carl Roberts IV was a milk truck driver for the Amish community, where he had lived with his wife and three children. Before leaving home that day, Roberts had written four suicide notes – one for his wife, and one for each of his three children. Before the incident, Roberts had shown no noticeable signs of mental illness.
The attitude of the Amish people toward the tragedy took on national importance. The people of this Amish community, true to their reputation for pacifism and forgiveness, visited and comforted members of the killer's family, and even invited Roberts' widow to one of the children's funerals. It makes sense when you think about it. Obviously, the members of the killer's family hadn't hurt anyone.
Despite the fact that Amish people do not accept outside donations (including health care benefits), in this extreme case an exception was made. More than four million dollars in donations poured into this little Amish community. Most of it was used to cover the medical costs for the survivors.
Just a few days after the tragedy, the West Nickel Mines School was torn down, and a new schoolhouse, called the New Hope School, was constructed at another location nearby.