Town Meeting Shooting: Property Dispute Led to Fatal Rampage, Cops Say

PHOTO: Rockne Newell
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A gunman with a property dispute showed up at a Ross Township, Pa., supervisors' meeting and opened fire tonight, shooting apparently at random before he was subdued by two attendees, a witness and Monroe County officials said.

Three people were killed in the shooting rampage, and three others were wounded, including the shooter, county officials said. The suspect, who was under arrest tonight, was wounded when he was tackled by one of the township officials at the meeting.

Pennsylvania State Police identified the alleged shooter as Rockne Newell, 59, who they said had long-running property dispute with the town.

His property was condemned Thursday, and he hasn't been in his home since, according to police. He came to the meeting in a car with Texas license plates, police said.

After entering the building, Newell fired a long gun as he made his way through the building. He then retrieved a handgun from vehicle, reentered the building and started firing the handgun before being subdued.

One of the two people who subdued Newell was a member of the parks program, and the other was a member of the public, police said. Neither has been named by police.

"They were certainly courageous -- they saved lives," State Police Capt. Edward Hoke said at a press conference tonight.

The shooting occurred at 7:23 p.m., at the Ross Township Building, Monroe County sheriff spokesman Jeff Strunk said.

According to a local newspaper reporter covering the meeting, the first shots came through the wall of the room where the meeting was being held, and then Newell came in and continued firing.

When Newell came back with the handgun one of the officials at the meeting was able to catch him by surprise and subdue him, Chris Reber, a Pocono Record reporter who was there to cover the meeting, said in an account published by the paper.

The gunman apparently didn't notice West End Open Space Commission Executive Director Bernie Kozen, who was taking care of one of the victims, Reber said.

"Bernie Kozen was there tending to the man and [Newell] didn't see them," Reber said, according to the Record. "Bernie bear-hugged him and took him down. He shot [the shooter] with his own gun."

Two of the people killed were declared dead on the scene. A third died after being taken to a nearby hospital. A fourth person was grazed by a bullet but not seriously wounded.

One victim is currently in surgery, police said.

The sixth person wounded in the incident was Newell, who was apparently shot in leg. He was later released from the hospital into police custody.

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