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Gunman Targets Amish School, Kills Children
Aired October 2, 2006 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Breaking news, revealing the developments. See for yourself in the CNN newsroom.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CO-HOST: And we are following breaking news right now. Hello, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.
DON LEMON, CO-HOST: And I'm Don Lemon.
A tragic scene unfolding in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. That is Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. A gunman targets a one-room Amish schoolhouse. State police on the scene tell us a number of people are dead. We have no idea how many yet or their ages. A gunman is among those killed. And a hospital spokesperson says at least three victims are being treated.
PHILLIPS: This is the heart of the Amish region, as you know, about an hour's drive just west of Philadelphia, a community, Don, as you well know -- you lived in this area -- very much against violence, very much living the simple life. This is something they're not used to, not used to seeing, not used to reading about.
They have a very strong commitment to their religion. They talk about -- openly they talk about their non-violent approach of -- to conflict, so it's -- it's a -- there's a lot of sad irony to what we're seeing here live.
LEMON: Yes. I see that. But they're not a community without problems, because they have the same problems as the rest of the larger community, except maybe to a smaller extent. And the big difference here is that they don't like to talk about it. They keep it among themselves.
We do not yet know even if the shooter in this case is Amish. We do know that a hostage -- we're being told by our affiliates in Pennsylvania that a hostage -- or a gunman, rather, came in earlier this morning. They got the call about 10:45, 11 a.m. this morning, that someone had taken folks hostage and that shots were fired in a one-room schoolhouse. This is in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
So far we understand that a number of people have been taken to the hospital, at least three patients. And we are told that the gunman, according to state police in Pennsylvania, the gunman is dead.
PHILLIPS: Also, we're getting word that Hershey Medical Center at Penn State is taking patients right now. We're kind of slowly but surely getting in this information. CNN has confirmed that there are three patients at the general hospital there in Lancaster, and also now we are getting word that Hershey Medical Center there at Penn State taking patients.
Still don't know how many people have been shot, who exactly opened fire. An interesting part, once again, of the Amish culture, they live life with very simple means. They drive horses and buggies rather than cars.
Very little access to phones.
PHILLIPS: So who called 911? That's the question. Who -- how did they get help? How did the response unfold?
LEMON: And it's not to say, Kyra, that not everyone in the community doesn't have telephones or electricity, but for the most part, they like to live by those standards. There are some folks in the area who do have those things, who may not be as strict, on the Mennonite culture, as others. But for the most part, when you travel in this area, you'll see homes where, very frequently, no electrical lines, lighted by candlelight.
We're also getting confirmed reports here that three of three pediatric patients, one of them reportedly in critical condition, taken to the hospital here.
But as you said, yes, a community that is very close-knit. And if you look at the folks -- we had shots earlier, ground shots, people on the ground. You still see folks in, you know, the black dresses and the boots and the white bibs. And the guys in hats.
That is because they don't believe in conformity, conforming with the rest of the world. They don't believe in being part of the rest of the world. At least they want to do it in the least amount that they can.
But they do have to survive. So they come into the city, into Philadelphia frequently on the weekends to work in the markets and to sell their wares. And that's how they make a living.
PHILLIPS: On the phone with us now, as we get more on the investigation, Don, Jack Lewis of the Pennsylvania State Police.
Jack, can you bring us up to date about -- A lot of gaps for us here. Not quite sure how this happened. Do you have any information on the gunmen? What can you tell us?
JACK LEWIS, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE: Our information is very sketchy at this time, and I'm hampered by the fact that I'm about 60 miles away from the scene at our headquarters in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
But from what we're hearing from our troopers on the scene, apparently, a man walked into a one-room Amish schoolhouse earlier today, ordered some of the children out of the school, forced others to remain in the school, and then opened fire, firing a number of shots.
After that occurred, the individual then apparently shot and killed himself. At this time we're not certain on the number of fatalities. There could be three fatalities or more. A number of children also have been injured. At this point we don't know who the individual was, and we don't know what the possible motive may have been.
PHILLIPS: Some witnesses were saying that he identified himself as "Roy," or at least somebody referred to him by the name of Roy. Are you -- is that the closest you've gotten to any type of identity?
LEWIS: Actually, at this point I don't even have that much information, so it's possible that some people on the scene may -- may have recognized the person. But as far as from what I'm hearing from our troopers at the scene, that's still under investigation.
PHILLIPS: Are there -- you know, you're saying three confirmed dead at this point?
LEWIS: WE -- I can't confirm it. That's the number I have been given, but I can't confirm that. We understand a number of children have been seriously injured, so we don't know much more than that. At this point they've gone to a number of different medical facilities.
PHILLIPS: Have all the injured been taken away from the scene?
LEWIS: To my knowledge, yes, they have.
PHILLIPS: Do you know how many kids were in that schoolhouse at the time of the shooting?
LEWIS: Our understanding is that, typically, they would probably have between 20 and 30 children in the school, although we don't know exactly the number at this time.
PHILLIPS: And at this -- I mean, just give me a sense -- this is -- obviously we've been talking, Jack, about the community. This is a very nonviolent community. This is a community that lives a very simple existence. I am assuming that this possibly is the first incident of its kind?
LEWIS: I would have to think that it most likely is. I couldn't confirm that.
Yes, these are people who live very simple lives. For the most part they are involved in farming or other types of trades to make a living. They are the people that you typically see in pictures throughout the country who wear the -- ride the horse and buggies, are in the very simple clothing.
And they do stay fairly much separate from the rest of the world. They attend their own schools. The children are not part of the Pennsylvania school system. They have their own school.
PHILLIPS: Has there been any contention within this community, any issues at hand, anything going on that might have caused somebody to want to do this? Has there been any kind of public issue?
LEWIS: No, there has not been anything that has been a public issue. These people are not very public. They're very private. And even if there were something that had been going on, I don't think generally the public would know about it. But no, we're not aware of any kind of issues.
PHILLIPS: So the fact that this is a community that wants to stay very much separated from life like you and I live, how does this -- how do you go forward with the investigation? Do you think they'll be cooperative with regard to interviews, talking, going on the record?
When you have had to deal with this community in the past, are they willing to cooperate, or is it the type of thing they won't want to talk about it? And -- or will they not be given a choice in this situation?
LEWIS: Typically, the Amish are cooperative when state police are doing investigations. Very often, unfortunately, their vehicles are involved in traffic crashes in which the buggies are hit by vehicles, and they certainly are cooperative with authorities. They have nothing against, you know, authorities, but they tent to -- they tend to stay to themselves for the most part. But we expect that they would be cooperative.
LEMON: And Mr. Lewis, we were talking about this being a fairly nonviolent, close-knit community, but not without problems. I mean, we don't want people to think there -- there are problems that do happen in the community, but they do tend to try, at least, to keep it among themselves. And maybe that's why some of these problems do escalate into bigger problems.
LEWIS: It's difficult to say. You know, I don't know enough. I don't live in an Amish area myself, although I'm in the same county, Lancaster County, but there's not a lot of interaction, other than the Amish you would see selling food at markets, and that type of thing.
LEMON: Do you know who called police and how? Was it by cell phone? Was it a 911 call? Do you know?
LEWIS: No, I don't have any information on that.
PHILLIPS: Do you have any type of liaison within the Pennsylvania State Police and the Amish community, somebody that's culturally sensitive to this community, that sort of helps build some type of relationship between the Amish and also the police?
LEWIS: Not specifically. As I say, we do interact with the Amish community on matters, albeit traffic or any type of theft, things like that, but there's not a particular person who's set up for that.
LEMON: Mr. Lewis, I do want to -- I hate to interrupt you, but we are getting word -- this also from the Associated Press -- and this is from the Associated Press, that the county coroner says at least six people were killed in the shooting at the Amish school. And this is according to the A.P., and that is the county coroner.
LEWIS: That's very sad news to hear.
LEMON: Six people in this -- in a schoolhouse, a one-room schoolhouse with maybe -- maybe 20 to 30 children. It could be far less in that room.
Can you imagine, Mr. Lewis, the horror of watching it? Because there's really nowhere to go. We were talking earlier, in this one- room schoolhouse, there's nowhere to go. So I imagine many of these kids just sat there and watched this.
LEWIS: I would assume that's what happened. It's just a horrible situation, and I don't think most of us can really understand what they went through.
LEMON: How does the state police -- how do you guys proceed from here? What's next?
LEWIS: Well, determining the -- trying to determine the identity and trying to determine if there -- what motive there may have been for this. That's about what we can do at this point.
LEMON: And with the shooter, obviously, among those who were killed, I would imagine finding a motive may be quite difficult for you.
LEWIS: Yes, it could be. Yes.
LEMON: All right.
We're looking at pictures -- don't go anywhere, Mr. Lewis. We're going to keep you on the line for a little bit, asking you a few questions. And maybe while we take this interim to update our viewers, you may be able to get a little bit more information.
But you're looking at live pictures from our affiliate, WBAL. It's in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. This is Nickel Mines community.
We're being told, and this is new information, that a gunman came in earlier this morning, took some children hostage in a one-room school there, and killed at least six people in an Amish schoolhouse.
As the wires are reporting, a bucolic community, Lancaster County, a community that we've been talking about as fairly nonviolent -- not without its share of problems, but certainly not to this extent.
And you can see investigators on the ground there, fanning out across the grounds of this school. Not exactly sure what they might be looking for: possibly a weapon, possibly bullets. Who know? But this is all live, unfolding right here in the CNN NEWSROOM as this happens.
Are you getting any more information there, Mr. Lewis, on the number of people who might have died in this?
LEWIS: No, I don't have anything more at this time. Our commissioner, State Police Commissioner Colonel Miller, is on the scene. And we expect that he'll be briefing the media shortly, so I'm hoping that he will have additional information from the scene.
PHILLIPS: Jack Lewis, Pennsylvania State Police, we'll stay in touch with you. We sure appreciate it.
LEWIS: Thank you.
LEMON: And we're continuing to follow developments in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. A tragic scene unfolding: a gunman targets a one-room Amish schoolhouse. Our live coverage continues.
PHILLIPS: Leaving Capitol Hill for rehab, Congressman Mark Foley's scandal widens. The FBI begins to investigate. What laws were broken, if any, regarding dirty e-mails to pages?
Speaker Dennis Hastert plans to speak this hour. We're going to bring it to you live.
LEMON: Every day life in Iraq, for better or worse. What would happen if U.S. troops pull out? CNN's Arwa Damon is embedded with American forces.
We're working all these stories right now from the CNN NEWSROOM.
PHILLIPS: Live pictures now as this breaking story continues to unfold. Live pictures via our affiliate out of Pennsylvania, WTXF. If you're just tuning in, this is what we can tell you so far here in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania.
A gunman has killed a number of children in a small schoolhouse, one-room Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania's Lancaster County. The shooter is among the dead. We are told A.P. now reporting that six people were killed. That's according to the county coroner, being quoted in the Associated Press.
These live pictures right now, police are searching around the area for victims who might be hiding in nearby fields.
So you can imagine the Amish community, very low-key, simple- living community, not used to this type of violence, very much against the use of force in any situation like this.
You can just imagine a gunman walking into a small schoolhouse, could have been 20 to 30 children in there. We're told the gunman forcing some children out, forcing others to stay in there, according to the Pennsylvania State Police, and that he opened fire and then taking his own life. So right now police and other emergency crews searching for other victims in the area that might have fled when that gunman walked into that small schoolhouse.
LEMON: And Kyra, we also want to take this opportunity to welcome or international viewers that you're watching news in the U.S., here in Pennsylvania. This is a suburb of Pennsylvania -- of Philadelphia, rather. This is in Lancaster County. It's called the Nickel Mines community.
A gunman came in this morning, as Kyra said, and held a couple people hostage. We're being told that a number of people are dead.
And you're looking at this terrain, at this community. And as I said earlier, it looks like a movie set. It looks like a step back in time.
And someone who can tell us all about that is a person who owns a business. His name is Aaron Meyer. He is in Bird Hen, Pennsylvania.
How far are you away from the school?
AARON MEYER, BUSINESS OWNER: Well, we're about ten minutes away from there.
LEMON: Tell me about the people in this community. You know, as -- I've seen -- I lived there and seen it. The people in this community get around in buggies, horse and carriage. Tell us about the kind of folks that come in and tell us about this community and this school.
MEYER: Well, the community here itself is very rural. There are some small -- there are some towns, Bird in Hand is just a very small town. Or Smoketown, Intercourse, Paradise, they're all small towns, you know, in the vicinity of 1,100, 1,200 people.
The rest of the countryside is farms, and primary, primary Amish. This is a very heavily settled Amish area. It has been for the last -- developed that way for the last 200 years. The...
LEMON: Talk to me about the school.
MEYER: The school...
LEMON: Because I know children in much of the Amish community only go to school up until upper -- until about eighth grade.
MEYER: Eighth grade.
LEMON: Tell us about this school then. It's a one-room school. Very small.
MEYER: It's a one-room school. I have talked to two of my daughters that said there were about 30 children in the school.
My -- one of my drivers that works for me, one of the Amish men who works for me, his niece was a teacher in the school, and we don't have any word on her situation. We do know that there were a number of children that did run out in the field. We don't know if they -- if they have been injured or that they ran home, or we just don't know where they are.
LEMON: You said you have two daughters in the school there?
MEYER: No, I have two daughters in the area.
LEMON: You have two daughters in the area.
MEYER: They telephoned me.
LEMON: What are you hearing? What are they saying happened? Has anyone come, told them about the experience inside the school?
MEYER: No one has told me what actually happened in the school, but we, in Pennsylvania German, a man (ph) is a man (ph). We don't know if he's 18 or 80. But we understand that the person involved there was -- was not a young person. And he's not a young person.
LEMON: Not a young person. So you're thinking not a student.
MEYER: No. We don't think so. Again, I can tell you only what the girls told me.
LEMON: Talk to me about what the girls said about -- you said the teacher, you're not sure of the teacher's condition. I understand you may be in the wind there. Are you on a cell phone?
MEYER: I am.
LEMON: If you can try to stay out wind, we would appreciate it.
LEMON: Tell us about the two students. You said the two -- the students that you know of or your daughters know of and about the teacher. You said they ran out into the field?
MEYER: Well, they think they did. They can't find everybody. At least the word is to me right now, they haven't found everyone. So the police that are there are out looking for them.
LEMON: We are looking -- go ahead. I'm sorry.
MEYER: There were -- there were about 30 students, and we know there are a number of people, of course, who have passed on.
LEMON: Yes. We were looking -- as you were saying that we were looking at investigators out marching across those fields, you know, almost arm in arm, going across the field. We're not exactly sure what they're looking for. As we said earlier it could have been -- it could be a weapon. It could be bullets. It could be -- they could be looking for people.
Because as you say, a lot of the kids ran out into the field, or at least some of them ran out into the field when this happened.
LEMON: Did they give you any sense of idea what time it was, what they were doing when the gunman came in, what he said when he came in?
MEYER: Well, they were having class.
MEYER: They were having class. That's all we know. So everyone -- everyone would have been in the schoolhouse. We just -- you know, I'm being very careful. I don't want to pass along any hearsay.
LEMON: And you know what? We appreciate that. And I want to -- just as we're looking at these pictures, just to get a little more background on this community, if you will. To your knowledge, living -- how long have you lived there?
MEYER: Twenty-five years.
LEMON: Twenty-five years. Have you ever seen anything like this?
MEYER: No, and, you know, the really sad part is people who visit with us, I often tell them, for instance, in this township, there's about 30,000 people. And we have no police, because there's just virtually no crime.
If there's an accident on the road, why, the state police come in and take care of that. But many of these townships there have no police at all, because there's no crime.
LEMON: We were wondering, too, because we were talking about, they don't like to use electricity.
MEYER: That's correct.
LEMON: Really not much for the phone. About how -- and how someone might have called or where they may have gone to actually get help.
MEYER: Well, usually -- usually on the farm, on the farm there is a telephone. Now, the reason for that is, of course, years ago the idea you was that you wouldn't have -- you wouldn't have a phone coming with a wire into your house, because that was connected to the outside.
LEMON: Right. And I imagine as time passes that that may have changed. But we -- we're going to have to get to a break here. We appreciate you speaking with us, Mr. Meyer.
Aaron Meyer, he's the owner of the local buggy company in Bird in Hand, Pennsylvania. He's about 10 minutes away from where this all happened. PHILLIPS: And we're continuing to follow developments. Of course, Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Our live coverage continues.
We're also following another developing story, a scandalized congressman out of office, the Republican leadership under the microscope now. More on the Foley fallout, five weeks before the midterm elections. That's straight ahead from the CNN NEWSROOM.
LEMON: And you're in the CNN NEWSROOM. Word into the CNN NEWSROOM just moments ago that as many as six people were killed in a schoolhouse shooting in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia.
Live pictures now from our affiliate there. As you can see investigators on the ground. They're combing the site there.
But we're told as of about 10:45, 11 a.m. this morning, Eastern Time, a gunman walked into a one-room schoolhouse there, made some demands, and then ended up shooting a number of people, among them children.
Late word from a spokesman at the Lancaster General Hospital. She is confirming that three pediatric patients have been taken there, ranging in ages from 6 to 15 years old. One of them is reported in critical condition.
And she is also saying that two of these children are being sent to Hershey Medical Center to be treated by specialists there, and also to Children's Hospital in Philadelphia.
Again, a gunman burst into a school in a normally quiet Amish community in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and according to the Associated Press and to police, killing at least six people.
Earlier it was reported that the gunman may have been among the dead. Right now, police are telling us they're not so sure about that.
PHILLIPS: We continue to follow these live pictures from a number of our affiliates out of Pennsylvania. These coming to us from WBAL.
And just to bring you, as we're obviously getting information through the wire services, through the local stations there, also through the local newspapers.
Something crossing the wires right now from one of the local papers, "Lancaster New Era", reporting multiple victims, most of them likely Amish girls were the ones that were shot this morning in this small schoolhouse in this rural county of Lancaster. Some reports saying as many as 10 people possibly have been killed.
According to this newspaper, a witness said that a man pulled a pickup truck outside the Bart Township School on White Oak Road this morning. He ran into this yellow one-room school building, filled with -- it could have been 20 to 30 children that were doing their lessons.
The teacher and some visitors fled, according to witnesses, and ran to a nearby farm for help. The man then ordered all the boys out of the school. This is according to witnesses that have talked to this newspaper.
And then standing outside the school, apparently, according to witnesses, state troopers shouted at the gunman, "Roy, put the gun down. Put the gun down, Roy." This is according to one of the witnesses.
The man then started shooting, and the troopers fired at him while shouting for the children to get down onto the floor. The shooter then killed himself, according to sources that have talked to this newspaper.
Mike Brooks on the phone with us right now, one of our law enforcement experts.
Mike, I guess, first of all, I've got a number of questions for you, but you obviously have been watching this coverage and watching what has happened in this community. What are your initial thoughts, questions?
MIKE BROOKS, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Kyra, I spoke with some law enforcement sources up in Pennsylvania, and they told me, first I heard three fatalities, then four, then six from them, and a total of 10 shot. And you know, there's a lot of questions about this, but apparently the man did walk in, he ordered some of the children out, then opened fire, and then he killed himself.
We also saw the Maryland state police helicopter there leaving the scene, helping out, because it's actually just over the line from Maryland. And you know, but what is the motive behind this? Was it someone in a pickup truck? Was it someone from the Amish community? A lot of question remain unanswered. But it's believe the gunman did kill himself, because I can tell you, if they thought that there was a gunman on the loose, you wouldn't see people just standing around like this, and you wouldn't see firefighters canvassing the rest of that scene around there if they thought that there was a gunman still out there on the loose.
PHILLIPS: Right, and some initial records are saying that they're out there searching for victims who might be hiding in nearby fields, because if it went down as we're reading some of these reports, if it went down this way, where a lot of the kids, specifically the boys, were told to leave the schoolhouse, and then troopers had one-on-one conversation with the shooter, even referring to him by name, by the name Roy, there could be a number of kids out here that could be wounded and could still be hiding, fearing for their lives, not knowing what has happened.
BROOKS: There could very well be, Kyra, and, you know, they're also out there looking for anything at all of any evidentiary value, because they don't know if this guy was hanging around there before, but it's just basically a good canvass of the crime scene to make sure that they don't miss anything at all.
HARRIS: And there was -- we talked with a local businessman who had been talking with his daughters that apparently were able to make contact with some of the people were at the school, and saying that the gunman was not a student at the school, it was an older gentleman, and if the testimony plays out right that we're reading in some of the local papers, that authorities were familiar with who this man was, at least knew his first name, and tried to get him put the gun down.
BROOKS: That could very well be. And, you know, what we're seeing right now it looks like they found something of interest, at least it looks like that, because they're photographing it out in the field, which I find very interesting. You see the two firefighters, and it looks like two law enforcement officers there, one with a camera, he looks probably an evidence person, taking a picture of something they found in the field, which I find very interesting also.
PHILLIPS: So all right, this could have been a planned situation, this could have been whoever this gunman was, it could have been a last-minute, snap decision to do this. But if they are actually moving out into this field, knowing to move out into the field, someone must have told them something. Could it be something left behind by the gunman? Could -- I mean, what were the possibilities?
BROOKS: It could very well be. I mean, there's a lot of questions to be asked. Was this gunman acting alone? Where did he come from? What is his background? What's the actual motive for this? Investigators will conduct interviews of everyone in that community. As we were talking about earlier, this community is fairly insular, Kyra, and when there are problems in the community, they usually tend to take care of it themselves. You know, what brought this gunman to come to this school here today to shoot these people? That's going to be the main question that the Pennsylvania state police are going to ask these witnesses. You know, what did they see? What did they hear? And did they know this person? Have they seen this person ever before?
HARRIS: In your experience in law enforcement, have you ever dealt with the Amish community?
BROOKS: I have not dealt with the Amish community directly. We used to deal with some of the Amish community when they would come through Washington D.C., but usually we've never had any problems. In fact, some of these small communities, Kyra, they don't even have police departments. Sometimes the counties will contract -- the cities will contract out with the Pennsylvania state police to actually do the patrol in these areas, and you know, because there's hardly any crime at all, and that's why you know, that some of these little communities don't even have their own police departments, and that's why the Pennsylvania state police are the main law enforcement agency in most of these communities.
HARRIS: Mike, appreciate it. We'll continue to talk more as we follow all of the developments and new information that we get in with regard to this shooting that happened at a small Amish school in Bart Township.
LEMON: And once again we are following breaking news happening in Pennsylvania, a shooting at an Amish school. Our live coverage continues.
PHILLIPS: Plus the top man in the House is on the hot seat as Republicans try to get in front of the Mark Foley scandal. Speaker Dennis Hastert plans to speak this hour. We're going to bring you his comments live from Capitol Hill, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.
LEMON: And breaking news into the CNN newsroom from Amish Country in Pennsylvania. Six people, according to the Associated Press, have been killed in a school shooting at an Amish school, a one-room Amish school. Now according to initial police reports, a gunman walked into the school about 10:45, 11:00 this morning, made some demands, and according to a newspaper there, the gunman, who they are calling "Roy," and who police called "Roy," ordered all of the young girls out of the school, out of class, and then proceeded to take them hostage. Now he ran into a simple one-room building filled with plain children, doing their lessons This is according to the newspaper who's on the ground there. The teacher and some visitors fled and ran into a nearby farm.
We did hear that from one of the business people who lived nearby area earlier here on CNN. The man then ordered all the boys out of the school. Standing outside of the school, state police troopers shouted Roy, put the gun down, put the gun down, Roy. That's according to a witness, and then the man started shooting at the troopers, and then the troopers shouted at him while shouting for the children to get down on the floor.
And according to this report, the shooter then killed himself. But then we're also hearing from other sources that not so sure that the shooter is killed. But then our security expert Mike Brooks said if this person was still holding people hostage or still on the loose, we would see a lot more activity from law enforcement there on the ground.
You're looking at live pictures from our Pennsylvania affiliates -- two affiliates there, WTXF and also WPBI in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
This is law enforcement on the ground. Six people, apparently killed from a shooting, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in Amish country.
PHILLIPS: Another top story we're following is one scandal, three investigations. The FBI, the House of Representatives, and Florida Law Enforcement are all investigating former Congressman Mark Foley, Republican of Florida.
As you may know, Foley resigned on Friday amid allegations that he sent sexually explicit e-mails to teenage congressional pages. Foley's lawyer confirms to CNN that Foley has checked in for rehab and alcoholism -- a rehab, rather, for alcoholism. And what he calls emotional difficulties.
Foley says that he accepts full responsibility for, quote, "the harm that I have caused."
Now, the top man in the House is on the hot seat as Republicans try to get in front of the Mark Foley scandal. Speaker Dennis Hastert plans to speak this hour. We're going to bring you his comments live from Capitol Hill right here from the CNN newsroom.
LEMON: All right. Joining me on the phone, we are talking about folks there on the scene or at least in the area. And we've been watching these pictures come in -- let's take a live look at these pictures. We've been watching these pictures come in from Pennsylvania of law enforcement on the ground there combing the grounds in the farm country here in the area, talking about the background of this Mennonite community in Pennsylvania.
On the phone now, someone I imagine, Mr. Kraybill, Donald Kraybill, Kraybill who is PhD in sociology from Temple University. Temple University, of course, located in Philadelphia not far, about 55 miles away from where this tragedy happened.
Much interaction with the Amish people in this community?
DONALD KRAYBILL, PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY: Yes. I actually live in Lancaster Country. I'm with Elizabethtown College. And my major area of research is the Amish communities of North America. I'm very familiar with them.
LEMON: Very familiar. This is out of character, I would imagine?
KRAYBILL: Well, yes. The Amish schools are typically very safe schools, out in rural areas. They typically are one-room facilities operated by Amish parents. And so they usually are not any security concerns or security risks in the schools, and so this is quite a shock.
LEMON: Quite a shock. What do you -- I know that you're not there and you can't get into someone's mind, but the mindset of someone who would possibly do this, not characteristic of someone who, especially a male in this community. Usually the men in this community have much respect for the women, especially the children.
KRAYBILL: Well, we don't know if this is an Amish person. My impression is this may be a non-Amish person.
The Amish do not live in cultural reservations, they're living interspersed in the English population, so it's very possible this is an outside person, just targeted the school for some reason.
LEMON: And coming in, the children, as you said, I don't -- I guess they don't live in a bubble, but they do sort of segregate themselves. I imagine this would be a shock to anyone, but for the children, someone coming into their school unknown, quite shocking...
KRAYBILL: Right. Well, the schools are typically very safe, secure places. There's typically is one female teacher, sometimes there's a second teacher's aide that works with the teacher who's responsible for all eight grades.
And these are quiet, gentle settings. And so this would be a tremendous shock to the children, because they wouldn't have been exposed to this kind of thing on television. They really -- it would be a tremendous shock to them.
LEMON: Give us the background on this, you being the expert. The clothes hanging on the line there, obviously, no dryers, electricity, you see the buggies, you've seen the men in hats. Give us some background on this community.
KRAYBILL: Well, the Amish are a German-oriented community, they speak Pennsylvania German, Pennsylvania Dutch. They are located in 27 states in North America. There are about 200,000 of them, including adults and children.
In Lancaster County, there are about 30,000. The larger population in Lancaster is about 450,000, so they're a small minority In Lancaster county. And then there are another 30,000 in other counties of Pennsylvania.
LEMON: How do they tend to get along with the secular community? Do they both get along well both living in the same community, among each other?
KRAYBILL: They're usually very friendly with their English neighbors. There's a lot of neighborly interaction, there's a lot of cooperation on some civic projects, like benefit auctions for local volunteer fire companies. So generally the relationships are amiable and pleasant with their English neighbors.
LEMON: You know, I haven't live there in -- for just for a few years, how far is Elizabethtown from this community?
KRAYBILL: Elizabethtown is about 25 miles west of this particular school.
LEMON: So you are close to this.
KRAYBILL: I am. And I know -- I mean, I do a lot of research out in this area, and so I know a lot of Amish families, and have a lot of assistants that work out in this area.
LEMON: We're talking about the schools there, this is obviously a one-room school which probably can't hold more than maybe 30 kids. How many of these schools would we find in this community? I would imagine that, you know, they don't go to the larger schools, so there are probably a number of schools that are similar, if not identical.
KRAYBILL: Right. We have about 150 similar schools like this in the Lancaster County area. The children go through grades 1 to 8, then they terminate their education.
There was a Supreme Court decision in 1972, Wisconsin V. Yoder, which said that Amish children can terminate their schooling at the age of 14.
So they are in a one-room, basic education-oriented classroom like this, and then they go back to working on small shops, or on the farm, or in their homes with their parents.
LEMON: We were talking about that earlier. And again having lived in Philadelphia, you would see mostly on the weekends, but even during the weeks, the folks would come in from Amish country and go to Reading Market, and sell their wears, things that they had grown or either had made during the week, typically of Amish community?
KRAYBILL: Yes, it's very typical. Many of them are farmers, about 40 percent of the adults are farming. The other 60 percent are in a variety of small businesses, and one of the more popular small businesses is markets in urban areas. They go into Baltimore, Annapolis, Philadelphia, Dover, Delaware and so on and have a lot of farmer's markets where sell produce and bread and a variety of products that they make.
LEMON: Yeah. And I imagine because they keep themselves separate, security, especially for their children, very important in this community. So this is really someone that has breached the security that they have for their families and their children.
KRAYBILL: Yes. It's very tragic. And certainly a surprise to the families. And I'm sure it will raise a great deal of alarm with the other schools, the other 149 schools in the area in terms of what can they do to make sure this kind of thing doesn't happen again.
LEMON: All right. Mr. Kraybill, anything that I did not -- any information that I didn't get from you?
KRAYBILL: No. I think you covered it well.
LEMON: All right. Dr. Donald Kraybill, a sociology expert, someone who deals very closely with the Amish community offering his expert advise, his expertise. Thank you very much.
And just in case you're just joining us, we want to update you. At least ten people have been shot, six people killed in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, which is about 55 miles, I believe, west of Philadelphia.
You can see all of the emergency people there, including news crews on the ground. This happened about 10:45, 11:00 this morning. We have several children who are in the hospital, at least one, possibly two who are in critical condition, were flown by helicopter to Hershey Medical Center, first taken to Lancaster General Hospital. And then several of them were taken to Hershey Medical Center. And then also to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
And Children's Hospital in Philadelphia is a place where you go for children usually where you want to get the best of care for a child, certainly offers the best in medical care in that area.
So again, that's the latest -- Amish country, a normally bucolic place, rocked this morning by a shooting, a gunman who shot at least ten people and killed six.
PHILLIPS: In addition to that story that continues to break out of Pennsylvania, we're also talking about another top story, and that involves Congressman Mark Foley, former Congressman Mark Foley. Checking out of office, checking into rehab, the ex-Congressman now getting treatment for alcoholism and more. It's the latest in the explosive scandal over sexually charged messages that Foley allegedly sent to teenage boys.
Speaker Dennis Hastert plans to speak this hour. We'll bring that to you live as soon as he steps up to the podium to make his comments. It'll be live from Capitol Hill. And we'll bring it to you here from the CNN newsroom.
Now, CNN national correspondent Susan Candiotti has the latest from West Palm Beach in Foley's home state of Florida.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mark Foley's lawyer, David Roth, tells CNN that the ex-Congressman has written a letter to his constituents trying to explain what happened. And in part, the letter says that events that led to his resignation crystallized longstanding, significant alcohol and emotional problems.
Now it is not clear from the letter whether the ex-Congressman is blaming his alleged misconduct on alcohol abuse. But Foley does say this, quote, "I strongly believe that I am an alcoholic and have accepted the need for immediate treatment for alcoholism and related behavioral problems." He goes on to say, quote, "I deeply regret and accept full responsibility for the harm I have caused," and goes on to thank his supporters for their prayers.
Now, Florida governor Jeb Bush has already initiated his own investigation into the possible criminal misconduct. He has ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and, specifically, its Cybercrime Unit to look into whether any of these e-mails that were allegedly sent by the ex-Congressman originated in the state of Florida. It is not clear whether that investigation will lead, but the FBI is the lead on it.
Susan Candiotti, CNN, West Palm Beach, Florida.
PHILLIPS: And the top man in the House on the hot seat as Republicans try to get in front of the Mark Foley scandal. Speaker Dennis Hastert plans to speak this hour. We're going to bring you his comments live from Capitol Hill right here from the CNN Newsroom.
LEMON: Also live from the Newsroom, we're expecting a news conference from the shooting very shortly from the state police in the shooting that's happening Amish Country. You're looking at live pictures there of reporters getting ready, police officers and investigators in the background, getting their information together to talk about the school shooting that injured at least ten and killed six this morning in Pennsylvania.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
LEMON: Developing news, a very disturbing story coming out of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, 55 miles outside of Philadelphia. In the Amish community, a shooting there with at least ten people shot, six people, according to the coroner, dead. Several of those injured were taken to a hospital there in Pennsylvania, and they're believed to be children. Some of the children taken to the hospital, and then of course had to be helicoptered to be treated specially to other hospitals in the area.
We're told at about 10:45, 11:00 this morning, a gunman burst into this small school, in an Amish community, and then made some demands, made all of the boys leave -- and this is according to a witness report and also to a newspaper there in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
Multiple victims, most of them likely Amish girls, were shot this morning at a schoolhouse in rural Lancaster County. As many as ten people were shot. A witness said a man pulled up in a pickup truck outside of Bart Township School (ph) on White Oak Road, that was late this morning.
He ran into the simple one-room yellow building -- and I'm reading much of this from the newspaper here -- and the school were filled with plain children doing their lessons. And then the teacher and some visitors fled and ran to a nearby farm for help, ran out into the field.
Let's talk to Aaron Mire, who has information about the shooter.
Aaron, what can you tell us?
AARON MEYER, OWNER OF LOCAL BUGGY COMPANY: Well, from what I understand, one of my -- I have two daughters in there that have called me about this, and there was -- in this area, of course, Amish people don't use vehicles. And if they want to go a long distance, they'll hire someone to take them.
Well, a 70-year-old man -- and this is the way I have this -- a 70-year-old man who was an Amish taxi driver had a falling out, an argument with several of the mothers, and he went to the school this morning and told all the boys to leave, and lined the girls up against the wall and shot them all.
LEMON: We want to -- You are...
MEYER: We have this from the ambulance driver.
LEMON: Now, before you finish that, we want to say Aaron Meyer owns a business in that area, and this is, you know, not confirmed, but this is according to people that you know on the scene. So police officers, investigators, officials have not confirmed this, but what you're hearing from people is that a 70 year-old man, you said, who had had a falling out with one of the mothers there, a taxi driver, apparently lost it.
LEMON: And ran into the school and then made these demands, especially to the girls, all the guys he made leave, and to the girls. And we're that he possibly shot the girls who were lined up?
LEMON: And this is coming from where?
MEYER: It's coming from one of my daughters who talked with one of the ambulance drivers.
LEMON: OK. So again this is coming from someone who's on the scene. We don't want to say it's hearsay, but it's from a witness who heard it from another witness.
So again, CNN is not confirming that, but we have you live on the air with that information. We will definitely work on trying to get that confirmed, that part of the story confirmed.
But again, Mr. Meyer has owned a business and has lived in this area, you told me, I think, for 25 years. So you do know folks there on the ground. I would imagine that some of the information you're getting us, there is some truth to some of it.
LEMON: But again, we cannot confirm it.
MEYER: My daughter and my other daughter's husband's mother, so I think it's pretty accurate.
LEMON: Say again?
MEYER: Would be from one of my daughters, from my other daughter's husband's mother. It's around the grapevine, but...
LEMON: Yes. Are you saying your daughter's husband works as an emergency worker, a police officer, in the area?
MEYER: With the ambulance.
LEMON: With the ambulance. He works with the ambulance.
And, again investigators are also trying to confirm the same information I'm being told, because they're hearing this as well. So...
MEYER: And there were five helicopters called and 12 ambulances.
LEMON: Five helicopters and 12 ambulances. Now I did hear that earlier about the number of emergency apparatus that was sent out there. So the reaction from -- you know people who are close to the situation. The reaction from people on the situation, Mr. Meyer?
MEYER: Well, people are horrified, you know. I have -- I'm at my business, which is a carriage ride, an Amish carriage ride not far from where the schoolhouse is. There are a lot of folks here that heard from the outside. And they're all talking about. They've all heard about it, and they're all sad and upset and...
MEYER: ... we are also.
LEMON: Now, Mr. Meyer, again I want to warn you about the wind, if you can somehow turn so that you're -- because you're live on television.
MEYER: I am outside.
LEMON: I understand that.
So again, this is coming from someone in your family who works with the ambulance company, as we are looking at ambulances right there and also investigators combing the fields.
You were saying that earlier, according to your daughters, that the teacher was standing in front of the class doing daily lessons, as usual.
MEYER: That's correct.
LEMON: And when this happened, a lot of the children -- I would imagine these are the boys, who were told to leave, who you said earlier ran out into the field?
MEYER: That's how the children happened to get out and get out in the fields.
LEMON: One of these boys, I imagine, that's among the people called for help or at least to someone so that they could call for help?
MEYER: As far as I know. I don't know who called for help. But I -- you know, Amish people, they don't have a phone in the house.
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