On October 2, 2006, Charles Roberts fatally shoots five female students and wounds five more at the West Nickel Mines Amish School in Nickels Mines, Pennsylvania. Roberts, 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. He forced all of the boys and several women with infants to leave and made the 11 remaining girl’s line up against the blackboard. When police arrived at the schoolhouse a short time later, Roberts had barricaded the school doors 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 had no prior criminal record or history 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, consoled Roberts’ widow in the wake of the tragedy; some members even attended his funeral. Ten days after the shootings, the community tore down the schoolhouse and built a new one nearby.
Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for CrimeMagazine.com and is the author of Murder & Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California 1849-1949. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: