These 12 Small Towns Were Devastated by Random Killing Sprees and Shocked the World
These 12 Small Towns Were Devastated by Random Killing Sprees and Shocked the World

These 12 Small Towns Were Devastated by Random Killing Sprees and Shocked the World

Mike Wood - November 26, 2017

These 12 Small Towns Were Devastated by Random Killing Sprees and Shocked the World
An Amish family mourn. In Times Gone By.

11 – Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania

After such trauma hits a community, it can come to define that place and its people. For many towns, there is no coming back when something traumatic strikes their small communities. Rarely, however, it shows the best aspects of rural living and traditional values. In terms of resilience in the face of terror and the overwhelming power of faith and belief after a tragedy, there is little that can come close to the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania.

The events of October 2, 2006, are well known: Charles Carl Roberts, a local milk tank driver and father of three, walked into the West Nickel Mines School, a one-room Amish schoolhouse, and took the students hostage. He released the boys but killed five young girls between the ages of 7 and 13, while injuring another 5 female pupils. By the time the police arrived, Roberts had killed himself.

The reaction was one of total horror. The Amish as a community are intensely pacifistic and the victims were all defenceless young girls, while the perpetrator had no history of violence. He was married with three kids and had seen his wife that morning, taking their children to the bus stop to go to school. In his suicide note to her, Roberts spoke of a child that they had lost together almost a decade before and of his anger at God for the pain inflicted upon him.

If it was God that fuelled Roberts’ rage, it was faith in the Almighty that distinguished the Amish after his actions. The strength of their convictions allowed them to pray for forgiveness for Roberts, with one community member telling the media that “I don’t think there’s anybody here that wants to do anything but forgive and not only reach out to those who have suffered a loss in that way but to reach out to the family of the man who committed these acts.” “He had a mother and a wife and a soul and now he’s standing before a just God,” said a father of one of the victims.

The Nickel Mines Amish comforted the family of the perpetrator and attended his funeral, while his widow was present at the funerals of a victim. She later wrote “Your love for our family has helped to provide the healing we so desperately need. Gifts you’ve given have touched our hearts in a way no words can describe. Your compassion has reached beyond our family, beyond our community, and is changing our world, and for this we sincerely thank you.” Some scholars of the Amish religion cited their strong belief in forgiveness as part of a wider trend towards celebrating those who turned the other cheek, while others also explained that there is a tradition of not holding grudges that is deep rooted in the Amish mindset. When tragedy strikes, the Amish reaction is to strive for something positive that moves forward rather than retribution that lingers over the trauma. The reaction of the community to each other was also impressive. They demolished the school and rebuilt another at a different location within just 6 months.

These 12 Small Towns Were Devastated by Random Killing Sprees and Shocked the World
Woo Bum-kon. Murderpedia.

12 – Uiryeong County, South Korea

Our final small-town psycho is the most deadly on the list, but one about whom most people know very little. The name of Woo Bum-kon will not much to the majority of readers for several reasons. Firstly, his actions took place in 1982, the earliest of any of our spree killers, and secondly, he committed his atrocities in South Korea, well beyond the usual Western media cycles. In many ways, however, the deadly actions of Woo Bum-kon will seem quite familiar.

Bum-kon was a policeman in Uiryeong County, South Gyeongsang Province in South Korea, one of the most isolated and least populated parts of the country. He had served his national service, as all Korean men do, before joining the police force in the small town of Kungyu. He was living with his girlfriend when he began his massacre, something which she later suspected had fuelled his rage, as many in the rural community had conservative views and resented that the couple lived together while not being married.

He was due to begin an evening shift on the force at 4 pm on the afternoon of April 26, 1982, and left his house after an argument with his girlfriend. At half-past 7, he returned home, assaulted his girlfriend and smashed up their house, before heading off to the police armoury and grabbing weapons. At 9.30 pm, he entered the post office, cut communications wires and shot three workers, before moving to another village, where he killed six more people with his M2 Carbine and a hand grenade. He continued travelling throughout the rural villages in his police uniform, using the trust that it engendered to con locals into letting him into their houses, whereupon he shot them.

In one instance, he was invited into a home that was hosting a wake and killed 12 people inside and another 8 outside. In another village, he murdered 18 villagers in the marketplace as they shopped. The police were attempting to get to him, but it took them an hour to assemble enough men to take him down. When they finally caught up with him, Bum-kon holed himself up in a rural farmhouse and killed himself. After a rampage that had lasted almost six hours, Woo had murdered 56 people and injured a further 35.
The outrage in South Korea was huge. The police force in Uiryeong County came under extreme criticism, both for allowing Woo Bum-kon to assemble so many weapons in the first place – he had walked right into the police armoury while they were having a meeting – and then for their slow response in apprehending him. The provincial chief was suspended, officers were charged with negligence and, after a national scandal, the interior minister and the national head of police resigned.

Uiryeong County was previously among the least known parts of Korea, with little to mark it out at all. After the untimely arrival of Woo Bum-kon, it became synonymous with violence and destruction.