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Trespassed Against: Nickel Mines, One Year Later
October 7, 2007 7:33 AM   Subscribe

"My first day on the job was the Amish school shooting at Nickel Mines in Lancaster County, Pa. in October of 2006. Here is some video of what I saw that day." Raw footage from that terrible day, recently posted to YouTube. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

It's been a little over a year since a milk truck driver walked into the one room school in Nickel Mines Pennsylvania and shot ten girls, killing five, finally turning the gun on himself.

Half of the seventy-five attendees at the killer's funeral were Amish and included parents of the victims. The week after it happened the community set up two funds to help the surviving families, one for the families of the girls, one for the the children of the shooter.

Forgiveness is a central part of the Amish belief system, taking the sermon on the mount as Christ's direct and specific description of how to live in the world. This includes the line from the Lord's Prayer: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us.

Other resources:

NPR on the anniversary and about a pretzel company's founders and their efforts to help.

Three leading Anabaptist scholars have just published a book about the incident, Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy. Excerpts from that book.

The Amish FAQ page from the Young Center for Anabaptists and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College.

The anniversary covered by the local paper.
posted by Toekneesan (28 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've always thought in this day and age when free markets and capitalism are the high religion, the Anabaptists are some of the most radical dissenters and thus vulnerable to scapegoating. Historically they always have been brutally suppressed, we have laws against that now, but in a way this is just a bloody continuation of events that started in the 16th century. I can't imagine this idea of persecution has not been lost on the Amish community either.
posted by stbalbach at 8:05 AM on October 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


It takes a special breed to worry about the children of your attacker.

I've always wanted to see the documentary "Devil's Playground."

I know this is just an aside.

We have a lot of Amish in the area I live (center of Iowa). Ever few years there is a buggy vs. car or truck accident (to predictable results).
posted by cjorgensen at 8:53 AM on October 7, 2007


More about Devil's Playground from NPR, a documentary well worth watching.
posted by grabbingsand at 9:29 AM on October 7, 2007


Excellent post, Toekneesan. Thanks.
posted by homunculus at 9:34 AM on October 7, 2007


Anne Taylor Fleming reflects on the Amish community's ability to forgive the killer of the school-house shootings.
posted by homunculus at 9:36 AM on October 7, 2007


I live in SE Iowa and we have a lot of Amish in our area. They are a beautiful and unique people. However, it does bother me that I am a Christian and they will not associate with me. I mean, they are polite and courteous if you should stop and buy some baked goods at one of their roadside stands, or perhaps a quilt, but, is is not a warmth that you would expect that two people who claim the same God should have.
posted by Tablecrumbs at 9:37 AM on October 7, 2007


in a way this is just a bloody continuation of events that started in the 16th century.

it was about religious persecution? how did i miss that? i could have sworn old milkman dan just wanted to grope him some little girls...
posted by quonsar at 10:41 AM on October 7, 2007


Talk about difficult first day on the job. yikes. the journalist who filmed those videos, has a couple of webpages. One on youTube, CoolLikeMiles and a MySpace page.

Well put together post Toekneesan. Heartbreaking story. Can't believe it's a year since that horrific tragedy took place.

From Wikipedia , about Roberts:

"Roberts and the young boys carried lumber, a shotgun, a stun-gun, wires, chains, nails, tools and a small bag. Also brought into the classroom was a length of wooden board with multiple sets of metal eyehooks, presumably to be used for securing the victims. The contents of the bag included a change of clothes, toilet paper, candles, sexual lubricant, and flexible plastic ties. Using wooden boards, Roberts barricaded the front door."

Yikes. Who knows what the hell was on this madman's mind? At least the police arrived 9 minutes after the woman who escaped the schoolroom phoned 911. That likely saved the children an even worse pre-murder nightmare.

Interesting he'd also worked with murderers. "Two of his co-workers were Lawrence Yunkin and Lisa Michelle Lambert, both of whom would be convicted in the December 20, 1991 murder of 16-year old Laurie Show in Lancaster, PA"

It's a powerful and beautiful message that the parents, who coped with such horror in their children being murdered, were able to find some kind of constructive way to deal with their anger, shock and grief. I worried initially that their forgiveness was too premature and therefore inauthentic, that it was an easy way out, rather than coping with the agony of outrage, bitterness, profound grief, fear, confusion and injustice.

Roberts was a deranged monster. There is no satisfying answer in any aspect of the story. It would seem that forgiveness is a wise, elegant and sane choice in dealing with this.
posted by nickyskye at 11:08 AM on October 7, 2007


Tablecrumbs: Well, you seem to get along better than Catholics and Protestants. At least theres no explosions.
posted by Iax at 12:17 PM on October 7, 2007


All I know is that the woman prostrating herself and screaming maniacally sure made some very valid and informative points. I'm so glad I watched that.
posted by inoculatedcities at 12:27 PM on October 7, 2007


A lot of that was clearly B-roll stuff, but it was particularly uncomfortable to watch the extended interviews and numerous non-answers that obviously never made it to air. If I had nothing to say I'd walk away from a camera.

Tablecrumbs: Being polite and keeping to yourself used to be a virtue. Not sure what you expect from them -- communion?
posted by dhartung at 12:34 PM on October 7, 2007


If I had nothing to say I'd walk away from a camera.

I would like to think I would as well, but if suddenly confronted with a great deal of death and unimaginable horror I have no idea what I might do; very possibly it would be something that seemed odd or inappropriate to observers a year later, such as perhaps screaming maniacally or even smiling calmly (as the man in the first video seems to be doing a bit).
posted by frobozz at 12:52 PM on October 7, 2007


Weird. I just put down Frans de Waal's "Our Inner Ape: The Best and Worst of Human Nature", take a gander at MF, and find this story. Very weird. Try it yourself!
posted by fcummins at 1:01 PM on October 7, 2007


I was at a file company sale in Christiana, PA on Friday night - just south east of Lancaster. The auctioneer was an Amish guy with a bunch of Amish kids as helpers. He auctioned off a small log cabin that the Amish kids had built at school with the hopes of raising a little money for the school - the one boy said he hoped they could buy a baseball bat.

They auctioned off the log cabin and it brought about $60. The winner said to put it back up for sale. The next time it brought about the same amount. When they took it over to the winner, that person waived it off and someone yelled "Sell it again!".

It ended up getting sold 4 or 5 times and raised about $250 for the school. It was pretty cool.
posted by Bort at 2:22 PM on October 7, 2007


Tablecrumbs - seriously, it's not about you. Grow up.

I trained in Lancaster. We mixed inner-city hospital work (yes, there is an urban core, lots of Greek, Hispanic, SE Asian) with a rural clinic. The Amish were always the most stoic, practical, and caring people I worked with. As an introvert whose quietness is often confused with being stern, serious or humorless, I could understand how they were misperceived as being unfriendly. I'm sure they don't care much one way or the other. I imagine they are constantly wary of being too open with the larger world. Not too different from how we might not want to get too chatty with the neighbor that has boundary issues.
posted by docpops at 2:29 PM on October 7, 2007


Great post, btw.
posted by docpops at 2:30 PM on October 7, 2007


you seem to get along better than Catholics and Protestants. At least theres no explosions.

the idea that catholics and protestants are killing each other in ireland is a convenient and evil fiction, and reveals a gaping ignorance of the facts. occupying british imperialists and occupied irish patriots are killing each other. the one bunch is traditionally protestant while the other is historically catholic. they are not and have never been fighting about religious matters. they are fighting over the occupation of northern ireland.
posted by quonsar at 3:54 PM on October 7, 2007


It ended up getting sold 4 or 5 times and raised about $250 for the school. It was pretty cool.

Your charming anecdote gave me a big smile. Thanks.
posted by nickyskye at 3:57 PM on October 7, 2007


<marketingfilter>
I really cannot highly enough recommend the The Beiler Family (Auntie Anne's) and the work of Kraybill, Nolt, and Weaver-Zercher. When I was a student at Elizabethtown College, they, as well as many of my friends from the plain societies of central Pennsylvania, were great inspirations to me.
</marketingfilter>

Toekneesan: Thanks for the great links.
posted by honest knave at 4:04 PM on October 7, 2007


Tablecrumbs - seriously, it's not about you. Grow up.

I'm not sure what you mean. I've been in and around Amish Communities most of my life (I'm 47) and I was just making the point that even as a child if I had an Amish friend, even if we technically are of the same faith, I would not be allowed in her home because I would be considered "English". I did not mean to offend anyone or claim that "it's all about me". I hope I cleared that up.
posted by Tablecrumbs at 4:14 PM on October 7, 2007


Tablecrumbs-Maybe the Amish have endured enough proselytizing
born again Christian fundamentalists that they have become adept at
"nipping in the bud " by maintaining a certain standoffishness with non Amish folk.
posted by notreally at 4:54 PM on October 7, 2007


Tablecrumbs-Maybe the Amish have endured enough proselytizing
born again Christian fundamentalists that they have become adept at
"nipping in the bud " by maintaining a certain standoffishness with non Amish folk.


Yes, that was what Jesus taught...be standoffish
posted by Tablecrumbs at 5:04 PM on October 7, 2007


See. That is what I mean. Thank you for telling me what Jesus taught.
posted by notreally at 6:06 PM on October 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Or didn't teach.
posted by notreally at 6:07 PM on October 7, 2007


in a way this is just a bloody continuation of events that started in the 16th century.

Actually, it's about a man who hated women and girls so much he decided that he'd torture and murder a classroom's worth of them.

I was struck by how few commentators and reporters seemed to comprehend that these people were killed for being female.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 6:46 PM on October 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


Well, I for one still would have liked a chance to kill the motherfucker the hard way.
posted by spitbull at 8:18 PM on October 7, 2007


it was about religious persecution?

Religious minorities have been "picked on" for every reason imaginable, usually as retaliation for some perceived wrong done to the attacker. For example, Jews were killed during the Black Death because they were thought to invoke the wrath of God and thus the cause of everyone dieing. The fact this guy killed Amish children in retaliation for God killing his own child seems analogous. Religious persecution takes many forms.
posted by stbalbach at 6:48 AM on October 8, 2007


how few commentators and reporters seemed to comprehend that these people were killed for being female

Pedophiles pick their victims not so much for their gender as for their age.
posted by nickyskye at 8:32 AM on October 8, 2007


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