Terri Roberts' son, Charles, shot 10 Amish girls on an October day in 2006, and her life and the lives of the people of Lancaster County, Pa. have never been the same.
As she looked back on Oct. 2, 2006, Roberts recalled hearing a siren, and, as usual, she had always taken a moment in the past to say a prayer each time she heard that piercing hurried sound.
Startlingly, as she stated in an interview with the Religious News Service (RNS), "Little did I know what I was praying for."
Soon thereafter she would receive a phone call from her husband, Chuck, who asked her to come to the house of her son, Charley, right away.
Roberts told RNS that she jumped into her car to hurry over to her husband while hearing on the car radio that there had been a shooting at an Amish schoolhouse in nearby Nickel Mines, Pa., where Charlie would sometimes park his milk truck, even as she encountered thoughts of whether Charlie had been shot while trying to rescue the children, or of whether he had been killed.
As she pulled into her son’s driveway, she saw her husband conversing with a state trooper. Quickly jumping from her car, she asked if Charlie was alive. And Chuck responded, "No."
Not only was he not alive, her son, Charles Carl Roberts IV, had just shot 10 little Amish schoolgirls before turning the gun on himself. There were five girls dead, and five others were seriously wounded.
The shooting shocked the quiet rural county, as well as the nation, and became the subject of media attention for weeks.
What followed would be years of indescribable grief and the struggle of a mother to deal with her loss, her God, and the overwhelming compassion for those innocent victims that consumed her every waking day.
One place where Roberts had found peace is at the bedside of her son's most damaged living victim, a paralyzed schoolgirl, now 11. In an in-depth interview, which you can read here, Roberts tells RNS' Daniel Burke how she managed to turn tragedy into an opportunity for service.