On Monday evening during a normal monthly meeting of Ross Township supervisors in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, a former resident by the name of Rockne Warren Newell, who apparently was holding a grudge after having a court order to vacate the property a year ago because of violations of zoning and sewer regulations, decided to return and opened fired on everyone at the town hall, killing at least three people. Three others were injured as well.
The shooting continued until Bernie Kozen, executive director of the township’s West End Open Space Commission, tackled the gunman and turned his own weapon on him. During the exchanged between Newell and Kozen, Newell received a gun shot would and was taken treated at the hospital before being taken into custody.
A local official was hailed as a “true hero” after tackling a gunman who opened fire at a town supervisors meeting Monday night in Pennsylvania, killing at least three people.
Three other people were wounded, including the gunman — who was shot with his own weapon.
Gunshots were reported at 7:20 p.m. ET at the regular monthly meeting of Ross Township supervisors in Monroe County, state police said. Two people died at the scene, and a third died at a hospital, according to state police Capt. Edward Hoke.
Chris Reber, a reporter for The Pocono Record who was attending the meeting, told his newspaper that Bernie Kozen, executive director of the township’s West End Open Space Commission, tackled the gunman and turned his own weapon on him.
“I ran out after the first round of shooting. I dropped to the floor. That’s what everyone did,” Reber said.
“It was automatic, like a string of firecrackers. Then it stopped and I crawled out the side door.”
State Rep. Matt Cartwright, who represents the 17th District, said an emailed statement: “Mr. Kozen is a true hero tonight.”
When contacted by The Associated Press late Monday, Kozen’s wife said he wasn’t there and she was unsure when he’d be back.
Police identified the suspect as Rockne Warren Newell, 59, of Ross Township. He was released from a hospital and was in custody, Hoke added.
The gunman approached the Municipal Building firing an unspecified long weapon into the windows, Hoke said. Fifteen to 18 members of the township’s Supervisors Council and the public were present.
The gunman entered the building, still firing, before he briefly left and returned with a handgun, police said. He was tackled by two people and restrained until police arrived.
Hoke initially said a fourth person had died, but police later corrected that information to say the fourth person was in surgery. A sixth person was grazed in the head and was reported in good condition, and a seventh suffered a heart attack from stress, Hoke said.
Newell had been in a long-running dispute with township officials over the dilapidated condition of his property, Hoke told Philadelphia’s NBC10.com. The township supervisors voted in February 2012 to take legal action against Newell for violating zoning and sewer regulations, according to NBC 10.
The Record reported in June that a Monroe County judge ordered him to vacate the property a year ago.
“They have no right to kick me off my property,” Newell told the newspaper in June. “They call my property an ‘eyesore.’ When I bought it, it was one of only three properties on the entire road that didn’t have what they call ‘junk.'”
The AP reported that Newell set up a fundraising page online and was trying to raise $10,000 to pay for legal fees in his battle with the township.
“Ross township took me to court & the court ruled I have to vacate my home of 20 years,” he wrote on the page called saveRockyshome. “I live on SSI which comes to $600 a month I have no money to clean it up.”
Ross Township has about 5,500 residents and is about 90 miles north of Philadelphia.