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Gunman kills 3 at Pennsylvania township meeting

Three people are killed and four hurt at a meeting in Ross Township, Pa., before a local official subdues and shoots the gunman.

August 05, 2013|By Peter Hall
  • Emergency crews respond to a shooting at the municipal building in Ross Township, Pa. Three people were killed at a township supervisors meeting before the gunman was subdued.
Emergency crews respond to a shooting at the municipal building in Ross… (Chris Post / Associated…)

Three people were killed and four others were wounded when a man involved in a long-running dispute with local officials fired shots into a crowded meeting room Monday night in Pennsylvania, police said.

A Ross Township official halted the rampage by overpowering the gunman and shooting him with his own weapon, a witness said.

State police identified the suspect as Rockne Warren Newell, 59. Police said Newell began firing a rifle through the windows of the Ross Township municipal building about 7:23 p.m., where 15 to 18 people had gathered for a township supervisors meeting.

Newell entered the building and continued to fire, officials said, and then returned to his car, where he retrieved a handgun and went back inside.

Pocono Record reporter Chris Reber, who was at the meeting, said a township official, Bernie Kozen, was bending down to help one of the wounded people, so the shooter didn't see him.

"Bernie bearhugged him and took him down," Reber said. "He shot [the gunman] with his own gun."

Newell had recently been removed from his property after township officials condemned it for code violations, state police said. The Pocono Record reported that Newell had turned his property into a junkyard and that he had no septic system.

Two victims died at the scene, and a third died in a hospital.

State Police Capt. Edward Hoke said a member of the public helped the township official subdue Newell.

"It was certainly courageous what they did," Hoke said. "They absolutely would have saved lives. He was entering the building again with a handgun and his intent had been shown to do harm to people, and certainly ... he would have injured other people."

peter.hall@mcall.com

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