Town Recovering After Building Shooting, Police Have Motive - FOX 35 News Orlando

Town Recovering After Municipal Building Shooting, Police Have Motive

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    Bullets fly at a town hall meeting in a small town just north of the Lehigh Valley, leaving three people dead, three others injured and an alleged gunman in custody.
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The municipal building is no longer a crime scene tonight, but remnants from the rampage linger. You can see the busted window out front from yesterday's flying bullets.

There are about 1,200 people who live in Saylorsburg. Tonight, the entire community is numb over what unfolded last night. Two people are also being hailed as heroes for saving so many lives.

In the middle of the Ross Township municipal meeting, about 80 miles North of Philadelphia. A gunman opens fire, killing three people and injuring three others.

"Very chaotic," recalls Mark Kresh. "The gunfire started. We didn't know it was gunfire. People were running and ducking for cover."

Mark Kresh didn't want to show his face on camera. He was one of more than a dozen people inside at the time.

Pennsylvania State Police tell us that the gunman, 59-year-old Rockne Newell, randomly started shooting into the building on Anchorage Road, around 7:30 p.m. Monday night.

Newell first fired off a rifle, then went outside and switched to use a revolver.

53-year-old Gerald Kozic and 64-year-old James LaGuardia were killed at the scene. David Fleetwood was taken to the hospital, but later died from his injuries.

"This could have been much worse had we not had the quick action of two individuals who interceded and stopped this from being worse," says Lieutenant Colonel George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police.

Kresh, who at the town meeting as a concerned citizen, and town official Bernie Kozen acted quickly and tackled the shooter.

"Two very courageous individuals positioned themselves in a way they were able to jump on the subject as he came through the door" says Lieutenant Colonel Bivens.

"It's unnecessary. I merely did what needed to be done. People needed help. I helped them," says Kresh about being hailed a hero.

The two people injured in the shooting were released from the hospital. Newell was shot in the leg and arrested. He's now facing homicide charges.

In his own words in court today, the accused gunman said that property is what "started this all."

Police say it was a dispute over dilapidated property that led to the deadly rampage.

FOX 29 went to the property today. It is a junk yard by a self proclaimed junk collector. There's a satellite dish, tires, barrels, lumber, and even an old doghouse with a propane tank in it.

Neighbors have complained about this property over the course of several years and that's where the legal fight began. It's a feud over this dilapidated property on Flight Street in Ross Township investigators say that led 59-year-old Rockne Newell to ambush a township meeting Monday night.

"I used to tell the guys at work that if it had to be movie and it had to be horror house, this could be it. You wouldn't have to do a single thing to it. It was a disaster," recalls a neighbor.

"There's a lot of stuff that's going on, and I don't know what to tell you, but it's terrible," says another neighbor.

Sources say Newell had been fighting the township since 2004 and even tried to raise $10,000 online to pay for his legal fees. He had no money to clean the property up and lives on a limited income of six hundred dollars a month. It's a battle that's become infamous throughout Monroe County.

"They've been throwing complaints into the town hall, so I guess the town hall really got fed up. People need to clean up after their mess," says the neighbor.

In the meantime we've learned a little bit more about the investigation as well. We've learned that investigators executed search warrants on this property and another one in Hamilton Township. They even had dogs out here and robots looking through the property, but they would not say at this point what they found.

Tonight, the accused gunman says he wishes he could have killed even more.

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