"It's a very traumatic situation," Miller said. "One of the girls died in the arms of one of my troopers."

A state trooper escorted reporters to the schoolhouse on White Oak Road late last night.

A simple bell tower capped the small, yellow building. A swing set, a slide and two outhouses were visible in the dark.

To the right of the gray schoolhouse door was a cupboard that holds the children's drinking mugs.

There was no glass in the window panes. Orange flags in a grassy field marked evidence. A helicopter was parked beyond a baseball backstop. Beyond that, two white horses grazed in the shadow of a silo.

Police did not let reporters enter the school.

A sense of despair
The despair that gripped the community was shared by many - Amish, Mennonite and "English," as those who live modern lives are called.

Paradise, Pa., resident Evelyn Vandament, who is not Amish, said that when she heard about the shooting she offered to drive two Amish to the home of a couple who have children who attend the school. She said she waited outside while Amish people gathered and prayed inside the couple's home, but that once the private prayer was over, she was invited inside.

"We cried together, we talked together," Vandament said. "This is so devastating for everyone. You can't say anything, you can't do anything. These are my friends and neighbors. It's so hard."

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