ABOUT THE SHOOTING
On the morning of October 2, 2006, Charles “Charlie” Roberts IV, a milk truck driver who served Amish farms in the Nickel Mines area, filled his pick up truck with building supplies and drove to the nearby West Nickel Mines one-room schoolhouse where he ordered all the boys to leave. He barricaded the doors and bound the remaining girls. Their teacher, Emma Mae Zook, managed to escape and run to a nearby farm for help. Roberts shot eight out of ten girls, ages six through thirteen, killing five, before committing suicide in the schoolhouse. The shooting is known by the Amish as The Happening.
Witnesses who were inside the school detail a horrific scene, and police believe the gunman intended to hold the girls hostage for hours, possibly days after finding in his possession an extensive collection of weapons, including 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistol, two shotguns, a stun gun, two knives, two cans of gunpowder and 600 rounds of ammunition. They also recovered additional materials such as ear plugs, change of clothing, pliers, etc.
Roberts left suicide notes behind, which alluded to his anger at God for giving him a stillborn baby. Roberts also mentioned molesting two female relatives, claims investigators haven’t been able to substantiate.
On the day of the shooting, the Amish community practiced forgiveness. Many of the Amish in the Nickel district, comforted the shooter’s family, and even set up a charitable fund for them. This story of forgiveness has been the subject of books and movies such as Amish Grace by Donald Kraybill and Steven Nolt. Additional books were written by Roberts’ mother, Terri Roberts, Forgiven: The Amish School Shooting, a Mother's Love, and a Story of Remarkable Grace, and his widow, Marie, One Light Still Shines: My Life Beyond the Shadow of the Amish Schoolhouse Shooting.