Mass shooting details unfold
(AP Photo/Pocono Record, Keith R. Stevenson) Accused gunman Rockne Newell is led from the Monroe County Courthouse in Stroudsburg Thursday, following his preliminary hearing on charges stemming from the Ross Township Municipal Building shooting in August. Newell was ordered to stand trial on triple homicide charges Thursday after witnesses described how he blasted his way into the municipal building.
It was an emotional hearing Thursday in the case against a Saylorsburg man charged with gunning down three people Aug. 5 at a Ross Township supervisors meeting.
Rockne "Rocky" Newell, 59, is charged with the crime.
The shootings and the ensuing turmoil inside the township municipal building, including repeated cries of "Oh, my God. Oh, my God," were captured on the meeting's regular audio tape. The tape was played during the hearing before Magisterial District Judge Kristina Anzini.
Another audio tape was played from the Monroe County 9-1-1 Center during which the desperate pleas for help were heard.
Photos were displayed of the victims.
Numerous victims told about the scene where victims were gunned down in cold blood while more than a dozen other people in the meeting room feared for their lives.
In the end, Anzini ruled that Newell will stand trial on the 12 charges filed against him.
Monroe County District Attorney E. David Christine said after the hearing that he will pursue the death penalty for Newell.
So heart-wrenching were the recordings from the meeting room that Christine commented, "I hope I never have to hear that tape again, but I will." They will be played during the court trial for Newell.
As the tape played, audience members were seen wiping away tears.
The trial date is not set, but Christine said it will be heard by a judge from Montgomery County.
The three-hour preliminary hearing was held in the Monroe County Courthouse, which was under tight security.
The shootings began at about 7:10 p.m. that night, when the township supervisors meeting was already in session.
According to testimony, Newell began his rampage with a rifle, shooting 14 shots through an open window. He then fired about 11 additional shots, including at two people who were leaving the building.
He fatally wounded both of them.
In the meeting room, his bullets hit a husband and wife, killing the man and injuring the woman.
Newell is charged with:
• Three counts of criminal homicide.
• Six counts of attempted criminal homicide.
• Two counts of aggravated assault.
• One count of recklessly endangering another person.
He was brought to the hearing wearing a dark blue prison uniform. Anzini ordered that he continued to be held without bail and was returned to Monroe County Prison.
At one point, he complained to his lawyer that he was chilly. The lawyer gave him his suit coat to drape over himself during the proceedings.
He appeared to doze off at times, but his lawyer insisted he wasn't sleeping; that he was merely listening to the testimony.
He also took his own notes during the hearing.
He is charged with killing Gerald J. Kozic, 53, and James V. LaGuardia, 64, both of Saylorsburg, and Ross Township zoning officer David Fleetwood, 62, of Chestnuthill Township.
Testimony indicated that LaGuardia was shot twice, in the buttocks and base of skull, when he tried to flee from the township building. Two shots missed him.
Kozic and his wife Linda were at a side door when Newell fired five shots in their direction, the testimony indicated. Both were struck. Linda was hit in the leg and fell to the floor. Newell walked up the entrance ramp to the building and aimed at Linda Kozic, said Pa. State Trooper John Corrigan. Kozic was shot a total of three times, with the fatal blast coming when, while Newell aimed the gun at his wife, he jumped between the shooter and the woman laying on the floor.
Fleetwood, who was shot in the doorway, sustained gunshot wounds to the abdomen and arm. He was transported to St. Luke's Hospital in Fountain Hill, where he died.
Linda Kozic was present at the hearing but didn't testify.
Newell also did not testify.
It was the recording from the meeting that aroused emotions at the hearing.
At the beginning of the recording, the supervisor chairman asks, "Any other old business? New business?"
And then a popping sound of the 14 shots. Although fired through a window, they went through an interior wall and into the meeting room.
Someone yells, "Oh, my God," and there's the sound of a woman moaning.
There's yelling, and a woman again yelling, "Oh, my God. Oh, my God."
As the tape continued, someone is heard shouting, "He's coming back," and three more apparent shots are heard.
At one point, apparently after he was subdued, Newell says, "The bastards stole my land."
Someone says, "Calm down, Buddy."
A woman is heard crying, "I can't get up. Oh, my God. Oh, my God."
Another woman is heard telling someone, "Keep breathing. Come on. Stay with me. Breathe."
She continues, in a frantic tone, "Come on. Stay with me."
One man shouts, "We need ambulances. Many of them. Many of them. Four. Five. Six. A half dozen. A dozen, I don't know. It's very bad. Please hurry."
Meanwhile a woman yells, "Jerry, stay with me," apparently referring to Kozic. A man says, "Come on buddy, breathe."
According to records, Newell has been in a feud with the township for several years. The township cited him for debris on his property and the site's poor condition. The property also was taken by the township and listed for sheriff's sale.