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Family friend: Amish girl asked to be shot to save others

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PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (Reuters) -- One of the girls who died in Pennsylvania's Amish schoolhouse massacre asked the killer to shoot her first in an apparent bid to save the younger girls, a woman who spoke to the victim's family said Friday.

Rita Rhoads, a nurse-midwife who delivered 13-year-old Marian Fisher as well as another victim, said Fisher appealed to Charles Carl Roberts IV to shoot her first because she thought it might allow younger girls to survive.

Rhoads said she did not know whether Fisher in fact was shot first. Roberts shot 10 girls ages 6 to 13, killing five of them and then himself in Monday's rampage. (Watch "shocked and sad" Amish express forgiveness -- 2:46)

Fisher's 11-year-old sister, Barbie, appealed to Roberts to shoot her next, Rhoads said. Barbie survived and was in Children's Hospital of Philadelphia recovering from shoulder, hand and leg injuries.

"Barbie has been talking and she said Marian said, 'Shoot me first,"' Rhoads said. "Apparently what she was trying to do was to save the younger girls."

Barbie, who attended her sister's funeral Thursday before returning to the hospital, gave details of her ordeal to relatives including her grandfather, who told Rhoads, the midwife said in a telephone interview.

"It was very courageous of the girls to offer themselves," Rhoads said. "God was really present to give the girls that kind of courage."

Pennsylvania state police were not immediately available for comment.

Roberts, 32, a local non-Amish milk truck driver, attacked the one-room schoolhouse at Nickel Mines, a farming community in Lancaster County about 60 miles west of Philadelphia.

He allowed boys and adults to leave and then tied the legs of the girls before shooting them, police said.

Four of the girls including Marian Fisher were buried Thursday and a fifth girl was being buried Friday.

The Amish, descendants of Swiss-German settlers, are a traditionalist Christian denomination who place particular importance on the Gospel message of forgiveness. They believe in nonviolence, simple living and little contact with the modern world.

Copyright 2006 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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The bench wagon carrying Marian Fisher's casket leads her funeral procession in Georgetown, Pennsylvania, on Thursday.

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