Watch Rick's report from Lancaster

Oct. 4, 2006

Many people have written in wondering if a fund has been set up for the families of the victims of the shooting at the Amish school in Pennsylvania.

The Worship Center in Leola that hosted the community prayer service to begin the healing process suggests offerings be directed to this website:

www.mds.mennonite.net

A number of pastors spoke during the 90-minute service, attended by well over a thousand people, including Amish families and worshippers who knew the shooter, Charles Carl Roberts.

One minister suggested the group, "ask God to put his arms around us." He offered thanks, "for a community that cares, a community that loves, a community that takes care of one another."

I spoke with several of the Pastors and a number of church members, who were all grateful for the coverage, despite the awful crime that brought us there.

We weren't just shining a camera light on the senseless murders, but on the recovery and the efforts to heal.

Privately, even the Pastors were baffled by the violence of the shooter. How could someone be so cruel? How could a father shoot innocent children at point-blank range? They had no explanation for the evil. Only prayers.

October 2, 2006
Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania

6:00 p.m. ET

The shooting at the Amish schoolhouse has turned a quiet rural intersection in southeastern Lancaster County into a sea of satellite trucks, microwave vans, crew cars, and still photographers. They stand on the roofs of their vehicles, snapping with long lenses as police process the crime scene.

There are easily more than a hundred press cars and trucks lining the road next to a cornfield, with the schoolhouse just beyond, sealed off by yellow tape and state troopers. Helicopters hover overhead.

A local auction house and general store on the corner has become the press center. There isn't much else here besides private homes, farms, and bewildered locals, including Amish people riding by in horse-drawn buggies.

A group of Amish men stood on the edge of a lawn when I arrived, quietly observing the chaotic scene around them. I said hello and tried to make conversation.

"How are you?" I asked.

"Sad," one of them told me.

I asked the youngest if he'd gone to the school and he said no. I asked if they knew the families involved and they shook their heads.

Then, I asked if there was a message they wanted to deliver to the world.

"Pray for us," one man said.

I thanked him and said goodbye. We had a live shot coming up.


3:23 p.m. ET

I was working on an expense report at my desk when the news broke of a school shooting in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Within seconds, my phone was ringing.

"Can you go?"

It was Coordinating Producer Kendall Gastelu.

"To Lancaster? Yes."

"Well, we need you in Studio N for now. We'll deal with Lancaster after."

Studio N is one of our newsroom cameras. I printed the latest available reports from the wires and messaged Kendall to get me background information on other recent school shootings. Then, I grabbed my suit jacket and headed down to the newsroom.

Within minutes, I was on the air with Bill Hemmer, relaying updates from the wires, local TV stations, and our producers, who were working the phones with Lancaster authorities and the Pennsylvania State Police.

Then Producer Meredith Orban e-mailed me. We were hitting the road with photographer John "Hollywood" Kisala. Since I live close to the office, I ran home and threw some stuff in a bag. Ten minutes later, we were on our way, listening to a police news conference during the two-plus hour drive, learning the horrible details of the story waiting at the end of the road.

Have a question about the Lancaster school shooting? E-mail Rick

Rick Leventhal has been a New York-based correspondent with FOX News Channel (FNC) since June 1997. You can read his bio here.