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07 Oct 2006 07:17
One of the girls who died in Pennsylvania’s Amish schoolhouse massacre asked the killer to shoot her first in an apparent bid to save younger girls, a woman who spoke to the victim’s family said on Friday.
Rita Rhoads, a nurse-midwife who delivered 13-year-old Marian Fisher as well as another victim, said Fisher appealed to Charles Carl Roberts to shoot her first because she thought it might allow younger girls to survive.
Rhoads said she did not know whether Fisher in fact was shot first. Roberts shot 10 girls aged six to 13, killing five of them and then himself in Monday’s rampage.
Fisher’s 11-year-old sister, Barbie, appealed to Roberts to shoot her next, Rhoads said.
Barbie survived and was in Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia recovering from shoulder, hand and leg injuries.
“Barbie has been talking and she said Marian said, ‘Shoot me first,’” Rhoads said.
Barbie, who attended her sister’s funeral on Thursday before returning to the hospital, gave details of her ordeal to relatives including her grandfather, who told Rhoads, the midwife told Reuters in a telephone interview.
“It was very courageous of the girls to offer themselves,” Rhoads said. “God was really present to give the girls that kind of courage.”
Pennsylvania state police were not immediately available for comment.
Roberts (32) a local non-Amish milk truck driver, attacked the one-room schoolhouse at Nickel Mines, a farming community in Lancaster County about 100km west of Philadelphia.
He allowed boys and adults to leave and then tied the legs of the girls before shooting them execution-style, police said.
Four of the girls including Marian Fisher were buried on Thursday and a fifth funeral was scheduled for Friday.
The Amish, descendants of Swiss-German settlers, are a traditionalist Christian denomination who place particular importance on the Gospel message of forgiveness. They believe in nonviolence, simple living and little contact with the modern world. -Reuters
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