NICKEL MINES, Pa. (AP) – A milk truck-driver carrying two guns, a stack of wood and an old grudge entered a one-room Amish schoolhouse, let boys and several adults go, then barricaded himself inside with a dozen young girls before opening fire on them, killing three girls and then himself.

Steven Neff
Amish men gather across the street from the schoolhouse yesterday in Nickel Mines, Pa. A milk truck driver entered a one-room Amish schoolhouse and killed three girls and then himself. (AP PHOTO)

It was the third deadly school shooting in less than a week in the United States, this time in a bucolic stretch of Lancaster County where horse-drawn buggies carry plainly dressed Amish along twisting backcountry roads and where violent crime is virtually nonexistent.

Seven others were taken to hospitals and most of the victims were shot at point-blank range, authorities said.

The gunman, Charles Carl Roberts IV, is not Amish, wasn’t targeting the Amish and apparently chose the school because he was bent on killing young girls as a way of “acting out in revenge for something that happened 20 years ago,” state police Commissioner Jeffrey B. Miller said.

A 32-year-old truck driver from the town of Bart, Roberts apparently killed himself, Miller said. He had left several rambling notes to his wife that Miller said were “along the lines of suicide notes.”

According to investigators, Roberts dropped his children off at their school bus stop, then pulled up at the West Nickel Mines Amish School – which had about 25 to 30 students, ages six to 13 – at around 10 a.m.

Roberts brought with him supplies necessary for a lengthy siege, including three guns, a stun gun, two knives, a pile of wood and a bag with 600 rounds of ammunition, police said. He also had a change of clothing, toilet paper, bolts and hardware and rolls of clear tape.

He released about 15 boys, a pregnant woman and three women with infants, Miller said.

He barred the doors with desks, two-by-fours and two-by-sixes and used nails, bolts and flexible plastic ties to help secure them, Miller said.

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