Demolition crew razes Pa. Amish schoolhouse, site of shooting that claimed lives of 5 girls

Thursday, October 12th 2006, 5:45 am
By: News On 6

NICKEL MINES, Pa. (AP) Workers with machines moved in before dawn Thursday and demolished the one room Amish schoolhouse where a gunman fatally shot five girls and injured five others.

Though known for constructing buildings without the aid of modern technology, the Amish relied on an outside demolition crew with heavy machinery to bring closure to the painful chapter in their peaceful community.

Construction lights glared in the pre-dawn mist as an excavator began removing the porch of the school about 4:45 a.m., and heavy equipment knocked down the bell tower and toppled the walls within a few minutes.

The quaint schoolhouse had been boarded up since the killings, with schooling moved to a nearby farm. The Amish planned to leave a quiet pasture where the schoolhouse stood.

``I think the Amish leaders made the right decision,'' Mike Hart, a spokesman for the Bart Fire Company, said as loaders lifted debris into dump trucks to be hauled away.

A group of 20 to 30 people, most of them Amish, gathered nearby to watch as the schoolhouse was leveled. ``It seems this is a type of closure for them,'' Hart said.

The destruction of the West Nickel Mines Amish School came a week after the solemn funerals of four of the five girls killed by gunman Charles Carl Roberts VI. Roberts came armed with a shotgun, rifle, handgun and a stun gun and killed himself after shooting the girls.

The five girls wounded in the October 2nd shooting are still believed to be hospitalized. The hospitals are no longer providing any information about the patients at the request of their families.

Hart, who has been coordinating activities with the Amish community and whose company will help provide security, said destroying the school is about trying to reach some closure.

Hart said private contractors were handling the demolition, and the debris would be hauled to a landfill.

Hart had said previously that classes were expected to resume this week at a makeshift schoolhouse in a garage on an Amish farm in the Nickel Mines area.