Charles Carl Roberts IV (December 7, 1973 – October 2, 2006) was the perpetrator of a school shooting in Nickel Mines, PA on October 2, 2006, known by most as the Amish school shooting. He shot and killed five girls including himself. Despite his horrific actions, the Amish community expressed forgiveness towards him.
Roberts was a milk tanker truck driver who served several Amish farms in the Nickel Mines area (including some of the victims' families). He had three children and a wife, for whom he left four separate suicide notes. When State Police Commissioner Jeffrey B. Miller interviewed Roberts' co-workers, they claimed to have noticed a "change" in him over the months leading up to the shooting. They also claimed that he seemed to return to normal in the week leading up to the shooting. Miller hypothesizes that this "calm" may have been when he (Roberts) decided to go through with the shooting. Miller also noted that Roberts' neighbors reported his mood as unusually upbeat and jovial during this time period.
Roberts was at the time a resident of nearby Georgetown, another unincorporated area of Bart Township. His wife last saw him at 8:45 a.m. when they walked their children to the bus stop before she left. When Mrs. Roberts returned home a little before 11:00 a.m., she discovered four suicide notes; one addressed to herself and one to each of their three children. Roberts called his wife from the schoolhouse on his cell phone and told her that he had molested two young female relatives (between the ages of 3 and 5) 20 years previously (when he was 12) and had been daydreaming about molesting again. One note Roberts left behind indicated his despondency over a daughter who died approximately 20 minutes after birth nine years earlier. He stated that he had "been having dreams for the past couple of years about doing what he did 20 years ago and he has dreams of doing them again", according to State Police Commissioner Colonel Jeffrey Miller. On October 4, 2006, the two relatives whom Roberts said he molested 20 years ago told police that no such abuse had ever happened, throwing a new layer of mystery over the gunman's motive and mental state during the shooting. KY Jelly was also found in the schoolhouse among Roberts's belongings, possibly suggesting multiple motives for the incident. Roberts' suicide note also spoke of the anger he had held against God.
Roberts backed a pickup truck up to the front of the Amish schoolhouse and entered it at approximately 10:25 a.m. EDT, shortly after the children had returned from recess. He asked the teacher, Emma Mae Zook, and the students if they had seen a missing clevis pin on the road. Survivors said he mumbled his words and did not make direct eye contact. After they denied seeing a clevis pin, he left to his truck and reentered holding a Springfield XD 9mm handgun. He ordered the boys to help him carry items into the classroom from the truck. Zook and her mother, who was visiting, took this opportunity to escape and run toward a nearby farm for help. Roberts saw them leave, and ordered one of the boys to stop them, threatening to shoot everyone if they got away.
They reached the farm, where they asked Amos Smoker to call 911. Meanwhile, the boys carried in lumber, a shotgun, a stun-gun, wires, chains, nails, tools, a small bag and wooden board with multiple sets of metal eye-hooks. The bag held a change of clothes, toilet paper, candles, and flexible plastic ties. Using wooden boards, Roberts barricaded the front door.
Roberts ordered the girls to line up against the chalkboard and allowed a pregnant woman, three parents with infants, and all remaining boys to exit. One girl, nine-year-old Emma Fisher, escaped without her older sister. At approximately 11:07 a.m., Roberts began shooting the victims. State troopers immediately approached. As the first trooper in line reached a window, the shooting abruptly stopped; Roberts had committed suicide. During the shooting, he fired at least 13 rounds from his pistol.
It took the troopers about two and a half minutes to break into the school to assist those children who were not killed instantly. At about 11:10 a.m. a message was broadcast on the police radio, "a mass casualty on White Oak Road, Bart Township, with multiple children shot", and "at 11:11 a.m., police radioed dispatchers again, estimating 10 to 12 patients with head injuries. The first medical helicopter was dispatched." Troopers and local police officers assisted the surviving children, administering first aid. Troopers and local officers continued to tend to the girls, helping the emergency medical technicians provide first aid on the school playground. Ambulances arrived just as the wounded girls were being carried out of the schoolhouse. Helicopters landed shortly thereafter and those still living were taken away for medical treatment.