Amish donate to widow of schoolhouse gunman

Last updated 00:00 14/09/2007
Reuters
FORGIVENESS: An exterior view of the Georgetown school which was the scene of the execution-style shootings of Amish schoolgirls in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. The Amish community has now donated money to the widow of the gunman responsible for the killings, Charles Carl Roberts.

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An Amish community that lost five girls in a Pennsylvania schoolhouse shooting massacre last year has donated money to the widow of the gunman.

The Nickel Mines Accountability Committee, which was set up to handle more than $US4.3 million in donations from around the world after the shootings, said it had given an unspecified "contribution" to Marie Roberts, a mother of three.

Her husband, Charles Carl Roberts, a local milk truck driver who was not Amish, tied up and shot 10 Amish schoolgirls aged six to 14 in their classroom on October 3, killing five of them before turning the gun on himself.

After the shootings, members of the deeply religious Amish community in Lancaster County, about 100 kilometres west of Philadelphia, said they wanted to forgive the gunman.

In a statement, the committee said: "Many from Nickel Mines have pointed out that forgiveness is a journey, that you need help from your community of faith and from God - to make and hold on to a decision not to become a hostage to hostility."

The Amish, descendants of Swiss-German settlers, eschew many aspects of modern life and place particular importance on the principle of forgiveness.

Four of the five wounded girls have been in school since last December, and two have missed some school for rehabilitative therapy, the committee said. The most seriously wounded survivor, Rosanna King, is confined to a reclining wheelchair, unable to talk or feed herself, but her parents said she smiled a lot and seemed to have good vision and hearing.

A new school built a short distance from the site of the old one - which was demolished - is expected to be closed on the anniversary of the shootings but no memorial events are planned, the statement said.

"To the casual observer, life goes on in Nickel Mines," the statement said. "But for the families each day brings with it the pain, grief and questions that remind them of their loss."

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- Reuters

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