Pa. man faces court in town meeting slayings

Associated Press

STROUDSBURG, Pa. (AP) — A man accused of killing three people at a municipal meeting in eastern Pennsylvania faces a preliminary hearing.

Rockne Newell, 59, was scheduled to appear Thursday in a Monroe County courtroom, where a judge was to decide whether there's enough evidence to send the case to trial.

Police said Newell packed a rental car with guns and ammunition before opening fire at the Ross Township municipal building Aug. 5, killing 62-year-old township zoning officer David Fleetwood and two Saylorsburg residents, Gerard Kozic, 53, and James LaGuardia, 64.

The 5-foot-10, 240-pound suspect was eventually tackled by two men and shot in the leg during the scuffle, officials said.

Police said Newell, a disabled junk dealer, was upset over losing his debris-strewn property in the wake of a court battle with the township over complaints that he lived in a storage shed, built an illegal culvert and used a bucket outside as a toilet.

He has said he regrets that "innocent people got hurt," but claimed township officials persecuted him for more than two decades. He allegedly told police he had gone to the meeting in hopes of finding the township officials in one place.

At his arraignment on homicide charges the day after the shootings, a judge asked Newell if he owned any real estate.

"They stole it from me. That's what started all this," he replied.