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Officials: Ongoing Property Dispute Prompted Monroe Co. Shooting

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(Photo Credit: KYW/CBS Philly)

(Photo Credit: KYW/CBS Philly)

(Source: KDKA-TV) Kimberly Gill
Kimberly Gill anchors KDKA TV News at Noon and 4 with Stacy Smith....
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Three people are dead after a shooting rampage at a township meeting Monday night on the other side of the state. But people in our area were scared and concerned when they heard the news.

It happened in Ross Township, Monroe County, but some early reports indicated it was Ross Township in Allegheny County.

CNN originally reported the triple shooting in Ross Township, near Pittsburgh. But, it turns out; it was Ross Township, north of Philadelphia. While people here are relieved, people in eastern Pa. are grieving.

In a second, everything changed. A quiet meeting of township officials quickly turned into screams of horror. Gunshots rang out, bullets flying everywhere.

“There had been multiple people shot there, there was a struggle,” said Lt. Robert Bartel, of Pennsylvania State Police. “It was chaotic.”

First shooting through a window, officers say the suspect, 59-year-old Rockne Newell, then moved inside and fired more shots.

“The gunshots were fairly random, probably less so as he approached the doors and fired from there,” said Col. George Bivens, of Pennsylvania State Police.

Fourteen shots in all. Police say Newell had 90 more rounds in his car, but he didn’t get the chance to use all of that ammunition.

A resident and township official tackled Newell to the ground as he went to retrieve another gun.

“His intent had been shown that he was… wanted to harm the people, and certainly if they would not have done that, he would have killed or injured other people,” Lt. Bartel said.

Two people died at the scene, a third died after being taken to the hospital. Several others, including Newell, suffered gunshot wounds.

He is being charged with three counts of homicide and two counts of attempted homicide.

It didn’t take long for police to release a motive. Newell and township officials had a long-standing dispute over his dilapidated property.

At his arraignment Tuesday, when a judge asked him if he owned any real estate, he said, “They stole it from me. That’s what started all this.”

RELATED LINKS:
Fatal Shooting In Monroe Co. Causes Confusion Locally (8/5/13)
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