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Man arraigned in fatal shootings at Pennsylvania township meeting

August 06, 2013|By Michael Muskal
  • This photo taken on May 22 shows Rockne Newell talking about his trials and tribulations with Ross Township, Pa., over junk on his property.
This photo taken on May 22 shows Rockne Newell talking about his trials and… (Keith R. Stevenson / Pocono…)

The man who authorities say shot three people to death during a municipal meeting in Ross Township in Pennsylvania was arraigned Tuesday morning.

Rockne Newell, who was tackled to the ground by two people at the Monday night meeting and then shot in the leg with his own gun, was charged with homicide and other charges.

Newell, 59, was involved in a long-running feud with town officials over his property where he kept a junkyard near his home, officials say. He was evicted earlier this year.

According to court papers reported by the Pocono Record, Newell said he expected to die in the incident.

According to the criminal complaint, Newell entered the Ross Township building at 7:19 p.m. and began shooting with a semi-automatic rifle.

The three people killed were identified in the criminal complaint as Chestnuthill Township Supervisor David Fleetwood and residents Gerard J. Kozic, 53, and James LaGuardia, 64, both of of Saylorsburg, Penn.

Authorities said two people who were injured were treated at a hospital and released.

After attacking with the long gun, Newell returned to his car and re-entered the building, armed with a .44-caliber Magnum handgun and was preparing to shoot when he was wrestled to the ground by two people, officials said. The gun went off wounding Newell in the leg.

At the arraignment, a judge asked Newell if he owned any real estate and he responded: “They stole it from me. That's what started all this,” according to media reports from the courtroom.

Newell is charged with three counts of homicide and two counts of attempted homicide.

Ross Township is in rural northeastern Pennsylvania, about 85 miles north of Philadelphia.

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