NICKEL MINES, Pa. Workers with heavy machinery rather than hand tools moved in before dawn today and demolished the one-room Amish schoolhouse where a gunman fatally shot five girls and wounded five others.
Construction lights glared in the mist as a large backhoe tore into the overhang of the school s porch around 4:45 a.m., then knocked down the bell tower and toppled the walls. Within 15 minutes, the building was reduced to a pile of rubble. By 7:30 a.m., the debris was gone, leaving just a bare patch of earth.
The schoolhouse had been boarded up since the killings 10 days earlier, with classes 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.
The Amish are known for constructing buildings by hand, without the aid of modern technology, but for this job they relied on an outside demolition crew to bring closure to a painful chapter for their peaceful community.
A group of 20 to 30 people, many of them in traditional Amish dress, 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 the five girls killed by gunman Charles Carl Roberts IV. Roberts came heavily armed and apparently prepared for a long standoff. He held the 10 girls hostage for about an hour before shooting them and killing himself as police closed in.
The five girls wounded in the Oct. 2 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.
He has said classes were expected to resume for the school this week at a makeshift schoolhouse in a garage on an Amish farm in the Nickel Mines area.
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