A gunman open fired at a town hall event in Ross Township, PA, on Monday evening, killing three people before a local government official subdued and shot him, reportedly with his own gun.
“At least three people were killed when a gunman opened fire at a Pennsylvania municipal building during a meeting, before he was tackled by a local official and shot with his own gun, a witness said,” the Associated Press reported late Monday. “The shooting, which also injured some people, happened shortly before 7:30 p.m. during Ross Township’s monthly meeting, Monroe County emergency management director Guy Miller said.”
The AP also reported that at least two more people were injured.
Chris Reber, a reporter for the Pocono Record, offered this first-hand account from inside the room, as written by his editors:
There were about 15 people in the rectangular room seated on padded folding chairs. The thing that got my attention: plaster flying out, blowing out through the walls. Witnesses would later tell me they saw pictures exploding away from the walls. I heard more than 10 shots. It was automatic, like a string of firecrackers. That’s what everyone said. There were real heroes here. People who did not consider their own lives in protecting others.
I crawled out to a hallway and then got outside. There is nothing in reality you can compare it to. It just was not in reality. All I could think was: It wasn’t happening to me. I went outside to the parking lot. There was a girl there calling 911. I was taking cover behind a truck, an SUV. I was about 50 yards away. The gunman was this guy wearing a blue Hawaiian shirt. I saw him go back out to his car — a silver Impala — and get another gun. I saw him get something out of his car. I didn’t see blood when I left. It wasn’t real to me until I went back inside and saw people bleeding.
In a follow-up interview with the Associated Press, Reber added more details. “[West End Open Space Commission executive director] Bernie Kozen was there tending to the man and he (the shooter) didn’t see them,” Reber said. “Bernie bearhugged him and took him down. He shot [the shooter] with his own gun.”
U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA), who represents the district but does not appear to have been at the local government town hall event, issued the following statement:
I am stunned and appalled at the atrocities that claimed the lives of innocent citizens in Ross Township, Monroe County this evening. It’s hard to find adequate words to console the loved ones and victims during this time of loss, but my thoughts and prayers go out to them. Reportedly West End Open Space Commission Executive Director Bernie Kozen was the individual who aimed at subduing the suspect and did so successfully, Mr. Kozen is a true hero tonight. I ask that the state of Pennsylvania and the whole country join me in standing with this community in prayer and support in the weeks and days following this horrifying tragedy. It is imperative that we as nation address this insidious trend by working together to prevent these random acts of violence from happening again.
The police have identified 59-year-old Rockne Newell as the shooter. The AP reported that Newell was removed from the building on a stretcher and is being treated at a local hospital. He is in police custody.