Poconos Shooter Arraigned, Wishes More Had Been Killed [VIDEO]
Police say Rockne Newell,59, feuding with officials in his northeastern Pennsylvania town over living conditions at his ramshackle property killed three people at a municipal meeting — including at least one town official.
5:20 p.m. - Details emerge on the shooting victims. David Fleetwood, 62, was a Chestnuthill Township Supervisor who doubled as the Ross Township Zoning Officer. He died after being flown to the hospital. Gerard J. Kozic, 53, was pronounced dead at the scene. He was a musician who performed on the White House lawn in 2004. James LaGuardia, 64, owned a television repair service and was outside the municipal building when he was shot and killed.
1:50 p.m. - Police say Newell was armed with a .44 Magnum handgun and was about to shoot six more people when he was wrestled to the ground by two men being called heroes: Parks and Recreation director Bernie Kozen and resident Mark Kresh. He is charged with three counts of homicide and two counts of attempted homicide.
12:23 p.m. - KYW TV tweets that Newell had a legal permit for a hand gun.
11:41 a.m. - Newell has been arraigned on homicide charges and charged with three counts of homicide and two counts of attempted homicide. At the arraignment, a judge asked if he owned any property and Newell said: “No, they stole it from me. That’s what started all this.”
According to the Pocono Record, he asked if he will get medical attention for his leg. “I got a .44 slug on my leg. Hospital says its still in there. They gave me no pain medication and sent me on my way. I’m bleeding all over the place.” The judge assured him he would get whatever help he needs.
11:30 a.m. – KYW TV tweets that according to an affidavit of the shooter he was heard to say he wished he had killed more people. The Pocono Record reports that court papers also say he targeted meeting because it was only time could get supervisors, solicitor in single location: court papers.
State police say about 15 to 18 residents and town officials were at the meeting inside the municipal building in Saylorsburg, PA around 7:30 p.m. Monday when the gunfire erupted.
Authorities say the gunman, 59-year-old Rockne Newell, was tackled to the ground by two people and shot with his gun.
WCAU reports Newell first opened fire through the windows with a long gun. He then went back to his car, got a handgun and entered the meeting room where he was subdued by “bear hug.”
Two people died at the scene, and a third person died after being flown to a hospital. A fourth person, a woman, was undergoing surgery.
Land Dispute With Township
Officials say Newell had an ongoing dispute with township officials over the possible condemnation of his unkempt property.
Newell wrote on his Facebook page almost a year ago that Ross Township took him to court where a judge ruled that he had to vacate his home of 20 years, remove a bridge and clean up his property. “ live on SSI which comes to $600 a month I have no money to clean up & it is insane to make me remove a bridge that FEMA gave the money to put in! I have no place to go I need a Lawyer but have no money!”
WPVI TV reports that Newell was concerned about his rescue dogs being “put to sleep because no one else will take them.”
State Police guarded the property and will likely enter it today once a search warrant is secured. The property includes an old camper in the front yard filled with wooden pallets, pieces of what appear to be old railroad ties and trash. A garage leans and appears close to collapse, and a propane tank sits inside an old dog house.
The Pocono Record said one of its reporters was in the township building and a gunman armed with a pistol with a scope shot through a wall into the meeting, in a rural area of northeastern Pennsylvania about 85 miles north of Philadelphia.
The reporter, Chris Reber, told the newspaper that all he saw was holes go through the wall, with smoke and plaster blowing out. He said he heard automatic gunfire.
“I ran out after the first round of shooting. I dropped to the floor. That’s what everyone did. … Then it stopped and I crawled out the side door,” Reber told the newspaper, which posted his account online. “I was the only person who crawled out. Everyone got behind a table. Some of the supervisors were over on the side throwing up.”
Reber said a woman opened a door to the meeting room “and he (the shooter) was standing there. A man pushed her aside and was shot. People were shot inside the room.”
The shooter returned to his car and came back inside with another weapon when a local official at the meeting grabbed him, Reber said.
“(West End Open Space Commission executive director) Bernie Kozen was there tending to the man and he (the shooter) didn’t see them,” Reber said. “Bernie bearhugged him and took him down. He shot (the shooter) with his own gun.”
Rep. Matt Cartwright, who represents the state’s 17th District, said he was “stunned and appalled at the atrocities that claimed the lives of innocent citizens in Ross Township.” He said he had heard about what Kozen did to prevent more bloodshed.
“Mr. Kozen is a true hero tonight,” Cartwright said in an emailed statement.
Kozen’s wife, reached by telephone at their home Monday night, said he wasn’t there and she was unsure when he’d be back.
Ross Township has about 5,500 residents. According to its website, the board of supervisors meets at 7 p.m. on the first Monday of each month.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.