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Monday, May 2, 2016

Iowa Amish react to shocking Penn. killings

Monday, October 9, 2006

Members of Iowa's Amish community were reacting with disbelief this week to the deadly shootings at an Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania.

"It was a shock to us all," said David Borntreger, 19, of McIntire in north-central Iowa. "One of my first thoughts was -my heart goes out, not just to the families, but to the teacher. Only a supernatural force, only God, can help a person through such hardship."

Five Amish girls were killed and five others were critically wounded when they were shot at their school Monday in Nickel Mines, Penn. News of the tragedy quickly spread throughout the Amish community nationwide.

Borntreger spoke Tuesday across the road from a one-room school house where one of his brothers and two sisters were studying.

"We will all pray for them," he said of the victims of Monday's shooting.

Eli Yoder, 35, has six children in school.

"We've heard of this in other schools, but not Amish," he said, leaning on a barbed-wire fence in a field near the school. "I didn't tell my children too much, not wanting them to be scared to go to school."

The Amish community lives a peaceful, prayer-filled life full of hard work without electricity or cars.

Enos Miller said he spoke Tuesday to his children, who were afraid of going to school.

"I gave them comfort and told them to trust in God," he said.

Borntreger said the Amish follow the teachings of the Bible - "if someone strikes your right cheek, you turn your left.

"Our goal is to never strike back in violence, to be completely nonresistant. Though we are human and may fail every day, that is how we strive to live."

Joseph Wagler, a member of the Amish community in southern Iowa's Davis County, said he and his neighbors were devastated. "I can't fathom it," he said. "There's no rhyme nor reason for it. These were innocent kids."

He said Charles Roberts, the man who shot the girls before killing himself, should be forgiven. But he still worries.

"If an Amish schoolhouse isn't safe, what is?" Wagler said.

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