A 32-year-old truck driver barged into a one-room schoolhouse Monday in Pennsylvania, brandished an automatic handgun and ordered students to line up next to the blackboard, a state police official said.
Charles Roberts was in the school for about 45 minutes before state police were contacted.
Roberts, who was also armed with a shotgun, allowed 15 male students between the ages of 6 and 13 to leave, along with a pregnant woman and several other women who had infants with them, but he held ten female students hostage, police said.
The teacher was also able to escape and she called 911 to report the incident.
Troopers arrived and formed a perimeter around the school, a police official said, but officers were unsuccessful in their attempts to communicate with Roberts.
A short time later, after calling a 911 dispatch center and threatening to begin shooting if troopers did not back off within ten seconds, police said, the gunman began to “execute” the girls, whose feet he had bound with wire or flex ties, even as a police negotiator was trying to call him on his cell phone.
When they heard the gunfire, troopers stormed the building, but were forced to break windows to gain access because Roberts had used pieces of lumber he brought with him to barricade the doors of the schoolhouse.
Inside troopers found Roberts and three students dead or dying.
One of the girls died in the arms of a trooper, a police official said.
The seven injured students were flown to nearby hospitals.
A county coroner said earlier the death toll was six.
According to a school information Web site, the school has 27 students.
It’s in Pennsylvania's Amish country, about 60 miles west of Philadelphia.
The shooting Monday was the third deadly incident of school violence in less than a week in the US.
Last Wednesday, a 53-year-old gunman took six female students hostage at Platte Canyon High School in Bailey, Colo. and later killed one of them, Emily Keyes, 16, before taking his own life.
On Friday, a student at a rural Wisconsin High School shot and killed the school’s principal, John Klang.
The student, Eric Hainstock, was scheduled for a court appearance Monday.