Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Fifth Girl Dies In Amish School Shooting

A seven-year-old victim of a shooting at an Amish school in the US succumbed to her injuries today, hospital sources said, bringing the toll to five victims dead and six wounded.

The girl, whose age was previously given as eight, "passed away this morning at approximately 4.30am (18:30 AEST) just after being removed from life support", said Sean Young, a spokesman for Penn State Hershey Medical Centre in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

"I believe it was a gunshot wound to the head," Young said when asked what injuries the girl sustained.

A fourth girl died in hospital later, according to Lancaster General Hospital spokeswoman Kim Hatch.

A gunman armed with a huge arsenal of weapons burst into an Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania today, tied up 11 young girls and systematically executed three of them before killing himself.

Eight other girls were wounded, and CNN today reported one of them had since died. Police say some of the others are so badly wounded they may not survive.

The gunman - a father-of-three who called his wife to say he was exacting revenge for something that happened 20 years ago - lined his terrified young victims up against the blackboard and opened fire.

It is believed the four who died were all shot in the head, as were some of the injured.

Today's attack, at the Amish school in the small town of Nickel Mines, is the third deadly US school shooting in the past week.

US President George W Bush said he was "deeply saddened" by the tragedy, and has ordered an emergency conference on school violence next week.

The gunman - milk truck driver Charles Carl Roberts, 32 - had ordered 15 boys and some adults in the one-room schoolhouse to leave before opening fire on the girls, who he'd tied up with wire and plastic cables.

Roberts, who was not Amish, had dropped his three school-aged children at their bus stop in the morning, showing no sign of the rampage to come, said Commissioner Jeffrey Miller, of Pennsylvania state police.

But Roberts had left a rambling suicide note and letter to his wife and children, referring to an event 20 years ago for which he sought revenge, and he planned for a lengthy siege.

In a final conversation with his wife before killing himself, Roberts also spokes of his need for "revenge", Miller said.

"He was angry with life and was angry at God ... there may have been a loss of a child at some point in his life," Miller said. He did not elaborate, but local media have reported Roberts had a fourth child who died as an infant.

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