Amish School Shooting

The Amish school shooting occurred on October 2, 2006, at an Amish one-room schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. About 10:30 a.m., shortly after the children had returned from recess, Charles Carl Roberts, approached the Amish schoolhouse. He asked the teacher and the students if they had seen an automobile part missing along the road. When the teacher and students told Roberts that they had not seen the object, Roberts walked out to his pickup truck and returned to the schoolhouse holding a pistol. He ordered the boys to help him carry various items from his pickup to the school room. While they were doing this, the teacher was able to escape and call 911 from a nearby farmhouse.

Among the items that Roberts had the boys carry into the schoolhouse were a shotgun, a rifle, two knives, 600 rounds of ammunition, wooden boards, and plastic ties. He allowed the adult women and boys to leave the school. He then ordered the ten remaining girls to line up against the blackboard as hostages. He used the boards to barricade the schoolhouse.

State Trooper Arrive

As a result of the 911 call, the state first trooper arrived at the school in less than 10 minutes after Roberts had taken his hostages. Other troopers arrived shortly thereafter. When they arrived, Roberts was binding the arms and legs of the ten girls with plastic ties. As a group of officers approached the schoolhouse, Roberts warned them to leave or else he would shoot his hostages. The officers backed away from the building, but formed a ring around it. They ordered Roberts to throw out his weapons and surrender.

By 11:00 a.m. a large crowd had gathered at the school. About seven minutes later, the gunman began shooting his hostages in rapid succession. The state troopers immediately ran to the schoolhouse. But as the first officer reached a window, Roberts committed suicide by shooting himself. It took the officers about two and a half minutes to break into the schoolhouse and help the girls who had not been killed instantly. Three of the hostages died at the scene of the crime, and two more girls died early the next morning. The five remaining hostages were all in critical condition, but all of them survived.

Motive for the Schoolhouse Shooting

This horrendous crime was a total shock to the people who knew the gunman, Charles Carl Roberts, as nothing in his past behavior would have predicted such an act. An incoherent suicide note indicated that he was trying to get revenge against God for the death of his baby girl. Apparently, he had no particular hostility against the Amish.

Forgiveness by the Amish

As shocked as the nation was at this horrible crime, it was equally surprised by the response of love and forgiveness on the part of the Amish. One Amish father noted, “He had a mother and a wife and a soul and now he’s standing before a just God.” On the very day of the shooting, a grandfather of one of the murdered Amish girls told others in the community not to hate the gunman, saying, “We must not think evil of this man.”

The nation responded to the Amish school shooting through an outpouring of sympathy, as well as a considerable contribution of money. In an act of forgiveness and love, the Amish shared a significant part of the donations with the widow and family of the gunman.

Aftermath of the Amish Schoolhouse Shooting

The Amish community tore down the one-room schoolhouse that was the site of the shooting. They then built a new schoolhouse at a different location.