GEORGETOWN, Pa. – Even as a somber procession of horse-drawn buggies with a small casket made its way to Bart Amish Cemetery Friday in an achingly familiar scene, the community found an unexpected ray of hope.

One of the victims of the Monday rampage at West Nickel Mines Amish School who was taken off life support and brought home to die in the last two days continued to breathe on her own, according to Daniel Esh, 57, an Amish artist and great-uncle to three boys who were inside the school.

The 6-year-old girl, whom he identified as Rosanna King, was returned to Penn State’s Hershey Medical Center for further treatment, Esh said Friday. He said he got the information from other members of the Amish community. He also heard that the child – born Sept. 11, 2000 – was able to squeeze a relative’s hand.

A Hershey spokeswoman said the hospital would not provide any information regarding the victims at the request of family members.

Even as more details about the shooting emerged, here, at least, was what appeared to be a small piece of good news.

It was in stark contrast to the sorrow on another day of mourning.

In a steady drizzle, 12-year-old Anna Mae Stoltzfus was buried – the fourth funeral in two days for the five girls killed when Charles Carl Roberts IV, a Bart Township milk-truck driver, opened fire in the one-room schoolhouse before taking his own life. Five other girls, including Rosanna, have been hospitalized with serious injuries.

Like the earlier processions on Thursday for the four other victims, including two sisters, this one was led by a pair of mounted state troopers and then a carriage bearing Anna Mae’s casket. Forty-one black, horse-drawn buggies followed, mourners inside draped in blankets against the wet, chilly breeze that swayed the leaves along Georgetown Road. Some of the bearded men at the reins of the coaches waved thank-you to state police who lined the road to the cemetery to ensure privacy for these most private of people.

Debbie Suhobrus, 38, stood by the road as the procession passed to let the Amish know “we’re not all like that,” she said.

On the day of the shooting, Suhobrus was listening to a police-radio scanner at her home when she heard the voice of a state trooper. He was screaming for help, asking for ambulances, assistance and helicopters.

Seconds later, the copters arrived, she said, and Suhobrus immediately drove the few miles from Gap to Nickel Mines, getting within 20 feet of the school. She said she saw one officer carrying a little girl, who she could tell was dead. “Honestly, when I got there, I didn’t think that anybody was alive in there,” Suhobrus said.

The boys, whom Roberts had released, were outside, huddled in the field behind the school or by the nearby outhouses. They were crying, she said. “A lot of them were praying, too,” she added.

On the ground, Suhobrus saw white sheets stained with blood before policed moved her and others away from the scene.

“You don’t hear of violence anywhere around here,” she said, “but now, I guess, it hit home.”

Roberts, a father of three, was tormented – he said in notes and in a call to his wife – by the death of his firstborn child and by dreams of sexually assaulting young girls.

As the funeral procession for Anna Mae passed by, Suhobrus said, “I pray to God none of the other little girls die.”


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