A milk-truck driver carrying three guns and a childhood grudge stormed a one-room Amish schoolhouse Monday, sent the boys and adults outside, barricaded the doors with two-by-fours, and then opened fire on a dozen girls, killing three people before committing suicide.
At least seven other victims were critically wounded, the AP reports.
The gunman, identified as Charles C. Roberts, 32, killed himself as the police stormed the West Nickel Mines Amish School, which is set back in a cornfield on a street of stone houses, barns and silos in Lancaster County, about 50 miles west of Philadelphia. Several of the wounded were in critical condition in area hospitals.
“He wanted to find female victims,” said Col. Jeffrey B. Miller, commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police. “This was a target of opportunity.”
Mr. Roberts had no criminal record or history of psychiatric illness, the authorities said. But notes he left at his home — where he lived with his wife, Marie, and their three children — said he was distraught about a slight that had occurred more than 20 years ago, the New York Times says.
Within half an hour armed state troopers arrived at the simple wooden schoolhouse.
They found huddles of traumatised members of the Amish community, who managed to relay the vital information: the gunman was still in the building, holding about a dozen children with him.
As armed officers took up positions in front of the school, a negotiator began talking through a loudhailer.
The gunman then telephoned 911, America's emergency service, and told an operator that if the troopers did not withdraw, he would begin shooting children in 10 seconds. His mobile number was traced instantly and the number passed on to armed officers at the scene.
Officers surrounded the school and tried to storm through the doors, only to find that each was blocked. They knocked through the windows to discover a scene officers described simply as "horrendous".
The gunman and three girls aged between six and 13 were dead. They had been shot in the head, as had some of the seven other girls badly injured. They had all had their feet bound.
It is not clear what time Roberts arrived at the school but he had come prepared. He was not Amish, but was known to the community as he delivered their milk regularly from a tanker truck, Telegraph.co.uk reports.
The violent events at the school run by one of America's most well-known religious communities was the third US school shooting in less than a week. Last week, a gunman killed a high school girl at a Colorado high school after sexually assaulting six girls, and a student killed a principal in a small Wisconsin town, monstersandcritics.com reports.
Prepared by Alexander Timoshik
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