Motive in Town Meeting Shooting: This Shack

Police say Rockne Newell had been in long-running fight with township

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 6, 2013 6:53 AM CDT

(Newser) – The gunman in last night's deadly town meeting shooting in Pennsylvania has been IDed by police as Rockne Newell. It's a well-known name to local officials, who the Pocono Record reports have been embroiled in a "long-simmering feud" with Newell over his junk-strewn property for some 18 years. The paper cites its previous articles as background: human feces were found on Newell's land in 2009; he built a "dwelling" on the land without getting the proper permits from the township; railroad ties and trash litter his yard; and township supervisors in February 2012 voted to take legal action against Newell for violating zoning and sewer regulations.

He was ordered to vacate in August 2012, and had reportedly been living in his car and in vacant buildings since. Newell himself complained to the Record in June, saying, "If I lose this property, I have nowhere else to go. What they're doing to me, what they've been doing to me for so long, it's wrong." The AP adds that Newell told officials the $600 monthly Social Security payments that sustained him couldn't pay to clean his property, which is located just a short drive from the Ross Township municipal meeting where he allegedly opened fire, killing three. Witnesses say Newell emptied his gun before returning to his car to get a second weapon; they say he was ultimately tackled and shot in the leg with his own gun.

A Pennsylvania State Police Trooper guards the dilapidated home of alleged shooter 59-year-old Rockne Newell, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013 in Saylorsburg, Pa.
A Pennsylvania State Police Trooper guards the dilapidated home of alleged shooter 59-year-old Rockne Newell, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013 in Saylorsburg, Pa.   (AP Photo/Chris Post)
A Pennsylvania State Police Trooper guards the dilapidated home of alleged shooter 59-year-old Rockne Newell, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013 in Saylorsburg, Pa.
A Pennsylvania State Police Trooper guards the dilapidated home of alleged shooter 59-year-old Rockne Newell, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013 in Saylorsburg, Pa.   (AP Photo/Chris Post)
Police said Newell entered the Ross Township Municipal Building Monday evening and shot several people.
Police said Newell entered the Ross Township Municipal Building Monday evening and shot several people.   (AP Photo/Chris Post)
A Pennsylvania State Police Trooper guards the dilapidated home of alleged shooter 59-year-old Rockne Newell, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013 in Saylorsburg, Pa.
A Pennsylvania State Police Trooper guards the dilapidated home of alleged shooter 59-year-old Rockne Newell, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013 in Saylorsburg, Pa.   (AP Photo/Chris Post)
A Pennsylvania State Police Trooper guards the dilapidated home of alleged shooter 59-year-old Rockne Newell, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013 in Saylorsburg, Pa.
A Pennsylvania State Police Trooper guards the dilapidated home of alleged shooter 59-year-old Rockne Newell, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013 in Saylorsburg, Pa.   (AP Photo/Chris Post)
Police said Newell entered the Ross Township Municipal Building Monday evening and shot several people.
Police said Newell entered the Ross Township Municipal Building Monday evening and shot several people.   (AP Photo/Chris Post)
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