Gunman Killed Girls Quickly After Call
Gunman Killed Girls Quickly After Call
Oct. 11, 2006
LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) _ The Amish schoolhouse gunman opened fire on his 10 hostages just moments after demanding authorities get off the property, giving state troopers no time to try to save the girls, according to investigators and 911 transcripts released Tuesday.
Charles Carl Roberts IV threatened to kill the children ``in two seconds'' during a 70-second call to a 911 dispatcher.
``Don't try to talk me out of it, get 'em all off the property now,'' Roberts told a Lancaster County dispatcher in a calm, flat voice, his only contact with police.
Before authorities could react, he hung up and started shooting inside the West Nickel Mines Amish School, killing five girls and wounding five others before killing himself.
``He clearly did not give the police any opportunity to get off the property,'' said Lancaster County District Attorney Don Totaro, who did not release the actual audiotapes to avoid further traumatizing the Amish community and Roberts' family.
``He did not seem emotional. He did not seem angry,'' Totaro said.
The 911 transcripts were released in response to a Right-to-Know request filed by The Associated Press.
The 911 center received four initial calls about the Oct. 2 shooting _ including Roberts' call; a nearly three-minute call from his wife, who had talked to him by phone and found his suicide notes; and one from a farmer calling on behalf of the Amish teacher.
``I just took, uh, ten girls hostage and I want everybody off the property or, or else,'' Roberts told the 911 dispatcher.
The dispatcher asked Roberts to stay on the phone so he could be transferred to state police. Roberts replied: ``Two seconds, that's it.'' He then hung up, before police could have him talk to a negotiator.
As a backup, police were readying their shields and weapons to break into the school. When they heard shots, they moved in.
Roberts, a 32-year-old milk truck driver and father of three, had stormed the school armed with a 12-gauge shotgun, a handgun, a rifle, 600 rounds of ammunition and a stun gun. He sent the adults and boys out and bound the 10 remaining girls at the blackboard.
Teacher Emma Mae Zook, 20, ran to a neighboring farm, prompting the first 911 call at 10:35 a.m. from farmer Amos Smoker.
``There's a, there's a guy in the school with a gun,'' Smoker said.
Roberts called 911 at 10:55 a.m. Three minutes later, his wife Marie called the dispatch center. She had talked to him by phone, but did not know where he was calling from.
``(He said) I'm not coming home, um, he was upset about something that had happened twenty years ago, and he said he was getting revenge for it, I don't think he was getting revenge on another person, I'm worried that maybe he was trying to commit suicide,'' Marie Roberts said.
She described the notes she had found.
``Like, the thought of not my children, not seeing them grow up, like, let's see, uh, I'm not even sure, here it is, my daughter Abigail I want you to know that I love you and I'm sorry I couldn't be here to watch you grow up, that's how the notes start,'' Marie Roberts said.
Roberts had told his wife he was tormented by memories of molesting two young relatives 20 years ago, and by the 1997 death of the couple's newborn daughter. Authorities have not substantiated the molestation claims.
Meanwhile, state police confirmed Tuesday they were looking anew at an unsolved rape attempt that occurred near Roberts' home in 2005.
An intruder entered a 39-year-old woman's home through a window and began assaulting her before her father intervened. The assault took place at about 3 a.m., the same time Roberts typically finished his milk run.
``We do have evidence,'' said state police Lt. A.J. Krawczel said. ``We'll look at that and compare it to what we have with Mr. Roberts.''
Police also reported that someone had scattered the flowers and kicked the fresh dirt at Roberts' grave overnight Monday. He was buried Saturday in Georgetown.
A modified garage at an Amish farm in the area will serve as a temporary schoolhouse for the children who survived the shootings, according to Mike Hart, the Bart Township fire department spokesman. He said he expected classes to resume this week.
Amish community leaders issued a statement Tuesday thanking emergency workers for their help and outsiders for their support and donations.
``The whole community, Amish and others, were horrified and shocked that such evil could be done to the most innocent members of our peaceful community,'' the statement said.
More than $700,000 has been contributed to a fund that will go toward medical bills and other expenses, including modifying homes and schools to accommodate the surviving girls' needs, they said.
``Each act of kindness, the prayers and every gift, small or large, comfort us and assure us that our spirits will heal even though the painful loss will always be with us.''