BY DANIEL VICTOR
Of The Patriot-News
NICKEL MINES — John Fisher, who the hundreds of journalists here knew was Amish because he was wearing a straw hat, was fielding questions from the
Baltimore Sun and New York Daily News when his cell phone appeared to ring.
He excused himself and left the reporters searching for more straw hats and bonnets to interview. Later, he told The Patriot-News he would sometimes pretend to get a call to get away from the bothersome questions of reporters.
“There’s about 250 too many,” he said when asked what he thought about the national media attention in the small town.
“I know it’s news,” said Sam Fisher, who manages Nickel Mines Auction House, where police and the media set up a home base, “but it’s something like overkill. It’s frustrating, let’s just put it that way.”
Those who dared to walk by the throngs of journalists wearing anything but professional garb were quickly snapped up for interviews, sometimes with dozens of news organizations at once. An Amish woman named Irene, who did not give reporters her last name, had six microphones in front of her as she explained her religious beliefs.
Several photographers snapped photos when a horse-drawn buggy drove by.
The Lancaster and Harrisburg media were on scene, but so were reporters from Montreal, the United Kingdom, Russia and Japan. CNN, MSNBC and Fox News followed the story all day. ABC recorded a “Good Morning America” segment.
More than 50 trucks with satellites atop their roofs filled the roadsides and nearby parking lots. Television reporters spoke in front of a long line of cameras, with a country hillside or the distant schoolhouse as backgrounds.
Sam Fisher said the reporters usually were polite. He minded only when they stuck cameras in his face, he said.
Jacob King, who is Amish, wore a stoic face as he took questions from several reporters.
“Does it make you more distrustful of outsiders?”
“Do you think there should be more security in the school?”
“Would you have ever expected something like this to happen?”
“Does it make you angry?”
He offered short responses to each question. For the final question, a reporter asked: “To people who are completely unfamiliar with your lifestyle, what do you want them to know about your community?”
King replied: “That we’re like everyone else.”