October 2

This Day in History

Crime

Oct 2, 2006:

Gunman kills five students at Amish school

Charles Roberts enters the West Nickel Mines Amish School in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, where he fatally shoots five female students and wounds five more before turning his gun on himself and committing suicide.

Charles Carl Roberts IV, a 32-year-old milk truck driver from a nearby town, entered the one-room schoolhouse at around 10:30 a.m. armed with an arsenal of weapons, ammunition, tools and other items including toilet paper that indicated he planned for the possibility of a long standoff. He forced the 15 boys and several women with infants inside the school to leave and made the 11 girls present line up against the blackboard. Police were contacted about the hostage situation at approximately 10:30 a.m. When they arrived at the schoolhouse a short time later, Roberts had barricaded the school doors with boards he had brought with him and tied up his hostages. Roberts spoke briefly with his wife by cell phone and said he was upset with God over the death of his baby daughter in 1997. He also told her he had molested two girls 20 years earlier and was having fantasies about molesting children again. At approximately 11 a.m., Roberts spoke with a 911 dispatcher and said if the police didn’t leave he’d start shooting. Seconds after, he shot five of the students. When authorities stormed the schoolhouse, Roberts shot himself in the head.

Roberts, a father of three, had no criminal history or record of mental illness. Additionally, his family knew nothing about his claims that he had molested two young female relatives. The Amish community, known for their religious devotion, as well as wearing traditional clothing and shunning certain modern conveniences, consoled Roberts’ wife in the wake of the tragedy; some members even attended his funeral. Ten days after the shootings, the Amish tore down the schoolhouse and eventually built a new one nearby.

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