Three dead in Pennsylvania government building shooting rampage

TN News

Email Print

Three people were killed and three wounded on Monday during a shooting rampage by an allegedly disgruntled resident at a public meeting in a government building in rural Pennsylvania, police said.

The monthly meeting of the board of supervisors of Ross Township in the Pocono Mountains region of Pennsylvania is usually a sleepy affair - minutes from June's meeting include a recital of the U.S. pledge of allegiance and discussion of the location of a driveway in a subdivision.

But not long after an estimated 15 to 18 council officials and residents sat down to talk township business, a gunman open fire with a "long gun" and was reportedly wrestled to the ground when he returned to the scene with a handgun, police said.

"No one wanted to move," Secretary Treasurer Doris Price was quoted as saying by the local newspaper, the Pocono Record. "Everyone was hiding."

Police said they had arrested Rockne Newell, 59, in connection with the shooting in this small town of around 5,500, about 90 miles north of Philadelphia.

Newell may have been shot in the leg during the incident but officials could not confirm his condition, state police Captain Edward Hoke said at a press conference.

The shooting in Ross Township comes after a rash of shootings, some of them high profile such as when a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, last December killing 20 children and six adults.

That massacre in particular sparked a national debate over gun rights in America that resulted in an unsuccessful push for background check legislation in Congress.

State police said they believed Newell was operating alone and that he had been in a dispute with the local council over issues related to a sewer on his property. According to local reports, Newell had been engaged in a lengthy dispute with the township over permitting and sanitation on his property.

As of late Monday evening, the names of the three victims had not been released. State police also said the situation was fluid and more information would be released Tuesday.

The Pocono Record newspaper, which said one of its reporters had witnessed the shooting, said the shots were fired through a wall and into the meeting.

"I saw smoke and plaster flying out, blowing out through the walls," reporter Chris Reber wrote in a firsthand account of the shooting. The noise was "like a string of firecrackers."

Reber wrote that he dropped to the floor when the shooting began, and crawled out a side door.

"Everyone got behind a table," Reber wrote. "Some of the supervisors were over on the side throwing up."

At one point, he wrote, a woman ran to the door and opened it, only to see the gunman standing there.

"A man pushed her aside and was shot," Reber wrote.

More World News