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Pete Newell: Rockne had been planning shooting

Published On: Aug 06 2013 04:40:46 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 07 2013 11:49:44 AM CDT

With three people killed in a shooting at the Ross Township municipal building in Monroe County, one haunting questioned remained: Why?

ROSS TWP., Pa. -

With three people killed in a shooting at the Ross Township municipal building in Monroe County, one haunting questioned remained: Why?

"They tormented me for 23 years," the suspect, Rockne Newell, told WFMZ's Will Lewis as the suspect was led inside the state police barracks in Lehighton hours after the shooting Monday night.

Newell expressed dismay at losing his home and property.

The shooter's own father, Pete Newell, said his son had been planning the attack for a long time because of a long-running land dispute with the township.      

Pete Newell said his son had been talking about shooting township officials for a while, as recently as Monday.

"He had been talking about this and we have been trying to talk him out of it, and he said, 'Dad, my life is over,'" Pete Newell said.

His son told him on the day of the shooting that he had nothing to live for. His home on Flyte Road was recently sold at sheriff's sale after a 23-year dispute with Ross Township officials.

Pete Newell said it was common knowledge that his son was angry and wanted revenge.

Later that day, police said Rockne walked into a Ross Township supervisor's meeting and started shooting.  It ended with three people dead.

"So he planned to go and shoot these people at the meeting?" WFMZ's Jaccii Farris asked.

"And himself, too," Newell said. "It's no excuse for murder. I will agree with it, but they pushed him to his point."

After he was arrested, a shirtless, disheveled Rockne Newell had no apologies.

"I don't even know how it happened," said Rockne Newell.  "It just happened. I don't know. I was just moving my stuff out of my place  and just, 23 years and nowhere to go."

Newell was staying at house across the street from his father's home in Hamilton Township.

Investigators executed a warrant to search the home Tuesday while Pete Newell looked on.

"I feel sorry," he said when asked how he felt about the shooting victims. "I feel really bad for the people who are dead because the ones who caused the problem aren't dead. It's the other ones. The innocent people got killed, not the ones that caused the problem."

Pete Newell said he hasn't spoken to his son. He said he plans to stand behind him.