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Church bells toll for Amish students

GEORGETOWN, Pa. -- Church bells tolled across Amish country yesterday morning in memory of five girls who were shot to death in their tiny, one-room schoolhouse a week earlier.

The school will eventually resume classes in another building, already being stocked with donations of stuffed animals and school supplies.

``Their objective right now is to get back to life, as normal as they can, [and] get the children back to a normal school," Bart Township Fire Company spokesman Mike Hart said yesterday.

Charles Carl Roberts IV, a 32-year-old milk truck driver and father of three, took 10 girls hostage at the school on Oct. 2 and shot all of them, killing five and serious wounding the others. A county coroner said Sunday that one of the wounded girls was not expected to survive.

Amish officials have not decided when the children will return to class at the new building, or when the community might raze the West Nickel Mines Amish School.

Yesterday morning, churches throughout Lancaster County tolled their bells in remembrance of the victims at 10:45 a.m., the time the siege began a week earlier.

The Rev. Douglas Hileman rang the bells at Middle Octorara Presbyterian Church in Quarryville, where the gunman's widow, Marie Roberts, was leading a prayer group at the time of the shooting. About a half-dozen people sat inside, praying.

Hileman's wife, Kristine, visited Marie Roberts at her home yesterday and said Roberts is doing well and the family is getting counseling.

Funerals for Anna Mae Stoltzfus, 12; Marian Fisher, 13; Naomi Rose Ebersol, 7; and sisters Mary Liz Miller, 8, and Lena Miller, 7 -- were held Thursday and Friday.

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