Local official, two others shot dead in Pennsylvania land dispute

SAYLORSBURG, Pennsylvania Tue Aug 6, 2013 12:06pm EDT

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SAYLORSBURG, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - A zoning official and two local residents were shot dead when a man losing his condemned home in rural Pennsylvania shot his way into a town hall meeting, authorities said on Tuesday.

Rockne Newell, 59, targeted those he blamed for losing his property, which was condemned in a dispute over sewage, said Monroe County District Attorney E. David Christine, Jr.

Killed in Monday night's assault on the monthly meeting of the Ross Township board of supervisors were zoning officer David Fleetwood, 62, and James LaGuardia, 64, and Gerard Kozic, 53, residents of Saylorsburg who were awaiting their turn to conduct business before the board, Monroe County Coroner Robert Allen said.

Court documents showed that Newell has been sparring with local officials for more than 17 years over the Ross Township property and property in nearby Hamilton Township. Both are small towns about 90 miles north of Philadelphia.

Eighteen council officials and residents were at the meeting at Ross Township municipal building when the shooting occurred, police said.

The Pocono Record newspaper, which said one of its reporters had witnessed the shooting, reported that the shots had been 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."

Police said Newell may have been shot in the leg, but they were unable to confirm his condition.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg, Toni Reinhold)

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Comments (17)
Doc62 wrote:
WOW! The USA is becoming Iraq! South Chicago is more dangerous than East LA. Need to commit suicide, but no guts? Just walk their streets at night and you’ll never know what hit ya!

Aug 05, 2013 10:23pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
flashrooster wrote:
The NRA says it’s because we don’t have enough guns. Since we already have more guns than any other country, I’m just wondering where the tipping point is. How many guns do we have to have before we start seeing the up side to having all of these guns? Because so far it’s given us more gun violence than any other developed country in the world, and when you look at how little gun violence there is in places like Japan and Austria where there’s very little gun ownership you have to wonder if perhaps the NRA is wrong and possibly telling us we need to buy more guns just to increase profits for the very lucrative gun industry. No? Absurd thought? Of course.

Aug 05, 2013 11:29pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Maulau wrote:
Eeeeeh yaaaaww, the sweet sound of freedom in Amerika…. The sound of a gun goin’ off, oh yea… What, I say, what other country can call itself free when them guvernment tell their folk they can’t just shoot off their guns when they please? ‘Cause, ya know, we need them guns for protection from the boogie man, ain’t no gun kill nobody, only bad people kill somebody… So here’s to freedom ya all, ’cause this is Amerika, number one, oh yeah!!!!!

Aug 05, 2013 12:09am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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