Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Meet Rockne Newell: Another "Law Abiding" Gun Advocate Turned Mass Murderer

(UPDATED -- See below)

Monday night was the monthly meeting of the Ross Township council, in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania.  But what would otherwise have been another quiet meeting turned into chaos and death.

In a scene repeated far, far too often in America, a deranged lunatic gun nut, armed with an assault rifle, burst in and opened fire.

Rockne Newell was about to have his land condemned because of the trash on his property (pics
Rockne Newell, gun rights proponent turned mass murderer
(Pocono Record/AP)
HERE), losing a longstanding feud with the Township.  Armed with a Ruger Mini-14 .223 assault rifle with scope (the same used in other mass shootings, including the one in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik), Newell stormed in and fired into the assembly, hitting four people, including at least one town official.  From an article:

“I heard more than 10 shots,” Pocono Record reporter Chris Reber said in a first-person account. “It was automatic, like a string of firecrackers.” ... 
Two people died at the scene, and a third person died after being flown to a hospital. Police confirmed that at least one of the dead was a township official but gave no details. A fourth person was undergoing surgery late Monday for undisclosed injuries. ... 
 “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,” [witness] Reber said in his account told to his editors, Marta Gouger and Chris Mele.

When the gun ran out of ammo or jammed, Newell then went to go back to his car to get a .44 Magnum Revolver and returned.  Luckily, another couple witnesses tackled him, then one of them got the gun from Newell and shot him twice in the leg:
Gunshots went off as Kozen struggled to restrain the shooter with the help of a second man, identified by police as local resident Mark Kresh. 
The victims were identified as David Fleetwood, Gerard Kozic and James LaGuardia, according to a criminal complaint, NBC Philadelphia reported. 
Eyewitnesses described the struggle between Kozen and the gunman to local newspaperThe Pocono Record 
"I saw Bernie struggling with him. Bernie got the gun and shot him in the leg twice," Ross Township Supervisor Tina Drake told the paper. 
Kozen told the Record that he was assisting another man who had been shot when the shooter "walked by me into the meeting room, I guess to shoot more people."
Three victims have died so far. A fourth is in the hospital. And Newell was injured as well.

The really eerie thing about this shooting is its proximity to another, recent town meeting in Pennsylvania that involved another gun nut, only a little more than an hour's drive west of the Ross Township hall.  Less than a week ago, in Gilberton, PA, a borough meeting suspended the employment of Police Chief Mark Kessler, after he used police full-auto assault rifles in his inflammatory, insurrectionist, and threatening videos.

And outside the council meeting that day was a small horde of extremist militia members, assault rifles in hand, standing around, blocking entry into the building, and rudely shouting down anyone who dared to talk.  It was like some third world country there, and local residents testified how fearful they were of him.

Though that episode ended without shots fired, one can easily imagine it turning uglier.  What if the Borough council had chosen to terminate Kessler instead of just suspend him? 

But the message was the same:  Keep government out of my gun "rights" and my personal life or, if I disagree with you, I will shoot you to death.  That's what Kessler insinuated when he called a picture of a deranged murderous clown "Nancy Pelosi" and shot her multiple times.  Is it really a big jump to go from saying it to doing it?  Probably not in the minds of weak-minded individuals like Rockne Newell.

I wonder what Mr. Newell thought about Mark Kessler and the display of extremists just to the west of him there in PA?  

Like so many other gun nuts, he echoed the gun lobby's paranoia and "gun rights" talking points.  

screencap of a pro-gun post from Newell's Facebook page
On his Facebook page, Newell also posted a picture that suggested why people need guns, including an assault rifle for when "people try to take them away" (see screencapture pic).  "I love this!" he wrote about it.

Later, on March 5, he posted a link to a White House petition calling for elimination of armed guards around politicians.

On February 26, Newell posts a link to a news article about a 4-year old boy who shot and killed himself with his father's gun.  Did Newell show sadness or call for people to secure their guns?  No.  Instead, he states:
Think on this had his father stole an assault rifle this boy would still be alive because an assault rifle is too long for a 4 year old to shoot himself!

Also on his Facebook page he has a long diatribe, where he goes on about "gun control." In part of that, he states,
1. Don't pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he'll just kill you. 2. If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck. 

He also wrote,
Guns in the hands of honest citizens save lives and property and, yes, gun-control laws adversely affect only the law-abiding citizens. Take note my fellow Americans, before it's too late! The next time someone talks in favor of gun control, please remind them of this history lesson. With guns, we are 'citizens'. Without them, we are 'subjects'.
That's right.  As I always say, lunatic gun nuts who go on killing sprees always think they are the sane ones who are defending gun rights as law-abiding citizens.

Yep.  Meet Rockne Newell, another "law-abiding citizen" gun owner... until he wasn't.

UPDATE (1/25/15):  In December, the main man who tackled and subdued Newell, township parks director Bernard Kozen, was one of 18 people from around the country who were honored for their heroism by the Carnegie Heroes Fund Commission.  **Please note that Kozen did not need a gun to subdue the shooter.**  From an article:
The parks director of a Pennsylvania township who helped subdue a gunman charged with killing three people at a municipal meeting last year is among 19 people being honored with medals and cash from the Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Heroes Fund Commission.
Bernard Kozen was the 56-year-old parks director of Ross Township when he tackled, disarmed and subdued 60-year-old Rockne Newell on Aug. 5, 2013. Newell is awaiting trial and faces the possible death penalty for allegedly killing three people in a dispute over his property. ....

Kozen, who had taken refuge in an office, could have run to safety behind Newell but instead tackled him and, with the help of another man, overpowered Newell, the awards commission said.
The hero awards honor those who risk their lives for others.