Amish Grandfather: 'We Must Not Think Evil Of This Man'

Published: Oct. 4, 2006 at 2:39 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 4, 2006 at 7:03 PM CDT
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A grieving grandfather told young relatives not to hate the gunman who killed five girls in an Amish schoolhouse carnage, a pastor said on Wednesday.

"As we were standing next to the body of this 13-year-old girl, the grandfather was tutoring the young boys, he was making a point, just saying to the family, 'We must not think evil of this man,'" the Rev. Robert Schenck told CNN.

"It was one of the most touching things I have seen in 25 years of Christian ministry."

The girl was one of 10 shot by Charles Carl Roberts IV after he invaded their one-room schoolhouse in rural Pennsylvania on Monday.

Three died at the scene and two died early Tuesday at hospitals.

Funerals for four of the victims are scheduled for Thursday, and the fifth will be Friday, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Five girls remained hospitalized on Wednesday in critical or serious condition.

At the families' request, the hospital did not provide details on the extent of the girls' injuries.

Schenck met with the families of two of the victims as well as the family of the gunman.

Relatives of Roberts had no hint that he would commit such a violent act, the pastor said.

Others who knew him described him as troubled.

"One person who had had almost daily encounters with him said that she noted that he never looked into anyone's eyes, he never looked into anyone's faces, and she knew that there was something deeply troubling about him," Schenck said.

"Although she did say, she was very careful to say, that Charles Roberts was not an evil person. That he was a deeply troubled man, that he had, in her words -- the sort of modest words of the Amish -- that he had problems of the heart."

Jack Meyer, a member of the Brethren community living near the Amish in Lancaster County, said local people were trying to follow Jesus' teachings in dealing with the "terrible hurt."

"I don't think there's anybody here that wants to do anything but forgive and not only reach out to those who have suffered a loss in that way but to reach out to the family of the man who committed these acts," he told CNN.

Sam Stoltzfus, 63, an Amish woodworker who lives a few miles away from the shooting scene, told The Associated Press that the victims' families will be sustained by their faith.

"We think it was God's plan, and we're going to have to pick up the pieces and keep going," he told AP. "A funeral to us is a much more important thing than the day of birth because we believe in the hereafter. The children are better off than their survivors."

When members of the community die, they are buried in wooden coffins; women in all white and men in all black, according to AP.

Bodies are embalmed, but undertakers do not apply makeup. Funerals are held in the victim's home, and the dead are delivered to the cemetery in a horse-drawn carriage. A hymn is read, but there is no singing, AP reported.

On Tuesday, police said Roberts told his wife he molested young relatives 20 years ago and was dreaming about molesting children again.

Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Jeffrey Miller said Roberts may have targeted the school for its girl students and -- given various items found in the school -- intended to molest the children.

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