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Spate of Shootings Raises School Safety Concerns

Three shootings at schools in the past week, including the attack on an Amish schoolhouse near Lancaster, Pa., that claimed the lives of five girls, have heightened concerns about school safety nationwide. A reporter covering the Amish shooting and a professor who heads a youth violence project discuss the school shootings.

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    The attack on children in a Pennsylvania school. We begin with some background.

    A spike in fatal shootings at schools has left seven victims dead in as many days. The latest incident happened yesterday in a quiet town in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. This time, the shooter, identified at 32-year-old Charles Carl Roberts, took over an Amish schoolhouse.

    Heavily armed, Roberts released 15 boys and several adults and then lined up the 10 remaining girls and bound them with wire and plastic ties. He shot 10 girls, all between the ages of 6 and 13. Five have died; five others were wounded.

    In a cell phone call before he opened fire at the schoolhouse, Roberts told his wife he molested two minor relatives decades ago. Today, State Police Commissioner Jeffrey Miller updated reporters on the investigation.

  • COL. JEFFREY MILLER, Police Commissioner, Pennsylvania:

    Both sides of Roberts' family were interviewed. His parents, his wife, they had no knowledge of any molestation by Roberts affecting any family member or anyone else. This was a complete surprise to them.

    There were two minor family members of Roberts that are alleged to have been molested as of this time, but this is solely based on the statement from Roberts. We have no other confirmation of that at this time.

    And we believe these minor relatives of Roberts — and this is alleged to have occurred 20 years ago — were between 3 and 5 years old. It's unknown what type of molestation, whether it was fondling or inappropriate touching, or sexual assault, or if anything occurred. We don't know.

    We tried to confirm whether there was ever a report made of such a crime, and we were not able to confirm that a report was ever made. And we have not been able to confirm that something actually occurred, but we know that he is making reference to this.

    Mr. Roberts was home-schooled his whole life. Mr. Roberts was somebody who was very handy with carpentry tools. He was very good at that, from what we understand.

    As far as his motives, it's pretty clear to us, based on the actions that he took, again, that he intended to go into this school — we believe it had nothing to do with the Amish, but it had to do with this victim range, which was this young, female students, ages 6 to 13. And we believe that he did not intend to come out alive.

    But we're also concerned that he may have had an extended plan to be in there for a lengthy period of time. And it's very possible — we don't know for sure — but it's very possible that, when he talks about doing the things and having dreams for the last two years about doing things that he did 20 years ago — if, in fact, it's true that he did this molestation — that he perhaps planned with the kind of wood, and I-bolts, and flex cuffs, and KY jelly and other things, it's very possible that he intended to victimize these children in many ways prior to executing them and killing himself.


    The governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell, said little could have prevented Roberts from attacking the school.

    GOV. ED RENDELL (D), Pennsylvania: No proposed law, none that I would think of or none that I've seen, could have ruled out this situation. This individual, as the colonel said, has never had a criminal record, has no evidence on record of mental instability that would have barred him from going into a gun shop and buying a handgun.