SAYLORSBURG, Pa. -- A man who fatally shot a township official and two others during a municipal meeting in northeastern Pennsylvania was about to fire more rounds when he was wrestled to the ground, possibly preventing more bloodshed, authorities said Tuesday.
About 15 to 18 residents and town officials were at the meeting Monday night in Ross Township when the gunfire erupted, according to Pennsylvania State Police.
The gunman, 59-year-old Rockne Newell, who had been involved in a long-running dispute with the township over a dilapidated property, was tackled to the ground by two people and was shot with his own gun, authorities said. He was treated at a hospital for a gunshot wound to the leg and was arraigned Tuesday on homicide charges and other counts.
Newell was armed with a .44 Magnum handgun and was about to shoot six more people when a resident and a township official wrestled him to the ground, Monroe County Coroner Bob Allen said at a news conference. The two people who subdued him were identified as Parks and Recreation director Bernie Kozen and resident Mark Kresh, according to state police.
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."
He is charged with three counts of homicide and two counts of attempted homicide.
The shooting happened during Ross Township's monthly meeting, held a short drive from Newell's property in the Pocono Mountains, about 85 miles north of Philadelphia.
Gerard J. Kozic, 53, and James V. LaGuardia, 64, both of Saylorsburg, were pronounced dead at the scene, Allen said. David Fleetwood, 62, who died after being flown to Lehigh Valley Medical Center, was a Chestnuthill Township supervisor who doubled as the Ross Township zoning officer, the coroner said.
A spokesman for Pocono Medical Center told the Pocono Record newspaper that Newell and two other people injured in the shooting were released from the hospital late Monday.
State police said Newell had a long-running dispute with township officials over the ramshackle, trash-filled property. He said he lived on Social Security and could not afford to clean it.