Amish Tragedy: PEOPLE Readers Respond

Amish Tragedy: PEOPLE Readers Respond
A horse-and-buggy Amish funeral procession heads down Mine Road on Oct. 5
Barbara L. Johnston/the inquirer/AP

updated 10/07/2006 AT 02:00 PM EDT

originally published 10/07/2006 AT 06:00 AM EDT

This week's PEOPLE cover story on the horrors of the Amish school shooting inspired readers to post their condolences and prayers for the families of the victims and the entire community of Nickel Mines, Pa.

The events are nearly unimaginable: On Oct. 2, 32-year-old milk-truck driver Charles Carl Roberts entered a one-room schoolhouse and, after letting the boys and adults leave, shot 10 girls, ages 6 to 13, killing five and critically injuring five others before taking his own life.

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Many readers sent their sympathies to the families of the little girls. (PEOPLE magazine will compile the messages and deliver them to the community.) Crystal, from Missouri, wrote: "I just wanted to say that I have three young daughters who are 4, 6 and 7, and I can not imagine the horror and grief the parents of those precious children must be going through. I just want them to know my thoughts and prayers are with them and all the families at this difficult time."

Others also grieved for the family Charlie Roberts left behind – his wife Marie and their three children, ages 2, 5 and 7. (They also had a daughter, Elise, who died minutes after her premature birth in 1997.) "As the mother of a 12-year-old girl," wrote Amanda McGrotty, "I cannot comprehend how anyone can take the life of an innocent child, and a man who has kids, and knows the loss of one makes it even harder to understand. My thoughts are also with Mrs. Roberts and her family."

What stood out to many readers was the Amish people's spirit of forgiveness: At an evening vigil on Oct. 2 the pastor for the Roberts family said one Amish neighbor had already gone to the killer's parents and offered forgiveness for the shooting.

A reader named Christyn wrote, "My heart goes out to all the families involved in this tragedy and the Amish community as a whole. I think we all learned a valuable lesson with the grace and dignity you, as a community, have shown. To be able to forgive is one of the hardest things for a person to do, and you have forgiven the man who took five angels from you. May God continue to bless you and thank you for showing us that there are such good, kindhearted people in this world."

Seconded Brianne Snow: "I cannot believe the courage, faith, and forgiveness that you have modeled for the world."

Few readers could overlook the fact that a number of school shootings have taken place recently. "It is unfortunate that this kind of tragedy is becoming a daily occurrence," wrote Camille. "The thoughts and prayers of 'decent' human beings around the world will hopefully give you some comfort during this most difficult and heartbreaking time."

To read all the comments, or to post your own, visit PEOPLE's condolences page.

Though the Amish do not typically accept outside charity, the outpouring of offers has led several organizations to humbly accept donations. The Amish don't have health insurance, so a portion of the money will go toward hospital bills.

The following funds have been created for this purpose – as well as a separate fund that the Amish requested for the wife and three children of gunman Charles Carl Roberts:

The Nickel Mines School Victims Fund
c/o HomeTowne Heritage Bank
100 Historic Drive
P.O. Box 337
Strasburg, PA 17579


Nickel Mines Children's Fund
Coatesville Savings Bank
1082 Georgetown Road
Paradise, PA 17562

Roberts Family Fund
Coatesville Savings Bank
1082 Georgetown Road
Paradise, PA 17562

Mennonite Disaster Services
Amish School Recovery Fund
1018 Main Street
Akron, PA 17501
www.mds.mennonite.net

Mennonite Central Committee, 21
Amish School Recovery Fund
S. 12th St., P.O. Box
500, Akron, PA 17501
www.mcc.org

Cards to the victims' families may be sent to:
Nickel Mines Children
c/o Bart Township
Fire Company, Box 72
Bart, Pa. 17503

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