School shooters leave nation wondering why

By Freedom Newspapers

People may disagree about what exactly constitutes evil and what its sources might be. But it is virtually impossible to think about what Charles Carl Roberts did Monday in the little township of Bart, Pa., without using that particular word.

Troubled, mentally disturbed, unhinged and even depraved just don’t suffice here. Whatever he might have done or had done to him 20 years ago doesn’t even provide an explanation, let alone an excuse. Shooting 11 innocent little girls, apparently after plans to rape them that were interrupted by the arrival of the police, is just plain evil.

The five girls killed were identified as Naomi Rose Ebersole 7; Anna Mae Stoltzfus, 12; Marian Fisher, 13; Mary Liz Miller, 8, and her sister, Lena Miller, 7.

Recognizing this act as evil doesn’t make it any less tragic or frustrating. We may learn more in time, in days perhaps, but Roberts apparently gave no particular signal, aside from seeming despondent recently, that might have alerted his friends, family or the authorities that he was planning such a horrendous act.

Married and the father of three, Roberts had no record of criminal activity or even minor scrapes with the law. Lots of people in rural Pennsylvania have several firearms, and Roberts bought his, all of which were legal, over several years. He didn’t seem to have anything particular against the Amish, who dominate the part of the country in which he lived; the victims were apparently selected because they were girls, and the school was within a mile of his home.

It is difficult to see how this horrendous crime could have been predicted or prevented.

Along with the killing of a 16-year-old girl in Bailey, Colo., and the shooting death of a principal at a school in Cazenovia, Wis., it will probably lead to beefing up security and making access for nonstaff adults more difficult at schools across the country.

But it’s hard to tell whether that will do much good. No security regimen is foolproof. And making schools seem more like jails will not do much for educational excellence or instilling the excitement of learning.

So we weep and gnash our teeth. Why do people who come to believe life is not worth living think they have to take others with them when they shuffle off this mortal coil? Why the bullying impulse to hurt and kill the most vulnerable among us?

It’s just evil.