Rockne Warren Newell lived alone in the Pocono Mountains of eastern Pennsylvania in utter poverty. His house was on the verge of collapse. His bathroom was a bucket.
But he was intent on keeping his home, even as officials in Monroe County's Ross Township threatened to evict him over the dilapidated property, which lacked a proper sewage system and was built without the necessary permits. With his only apparent income a $600 a month Social Security disability check, he argued that he could not afford the court costs to fight the township, nor the required improvements and permits.
But the long-running dispute with local government officials reached its end Monday night, when Mr. Newell, 59, burst into the township's monthly supervisors meeting in Saylorsburg, Pa., firing a rifle, and minutes later returning with a .44 Magnum revolver, killing three, police said. In all, he fired 28 rounds at the 15 to 18 people inside the room at the time, police said.
The victims included David Fleetwood, 62, a supervisor from neighboring Chestnuthill Township, who also served as Ross Township's zoning officer; Gerard J. Kozic, 53; and James V. LaGuardia, 64. (It was not immediately clear whether Mr. Kozic or Mr. LaGuardia had any role in township government.)
On Tuesday, Mr. Newell was arraigned on three homicide charges and two attempted homicide charges. He did not immediately enter a plea, authorities said, but when the judge asked Mr. Newell if he owned any real estate, he responded: "They stole it from me. That's what started all this."
After he was arrested, Mr. Newell told officers that he had planned the attack in order to have as many of the township's officials as possible in one place, so they would be easier for him to kill. He told officers, "I wish I had killed more of them," according to the police report.
And the toll would likely have been higher, said Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens, had Mr. Newell not been restrained by Bernie Kozen, a local parks official, after Mr. Newell returned to the meeting room brandishing the revolver.
As Mr. Kozen wrestled him to the floor, Mr. Newell continued to fire, authorities said, stopping only after a second man jumped in, and the two men were able to subdue him until police arrived. During the struggle, Mr. Newell was struck by a bullet in the leg, authorities said, but Col. Bivens said Tuesday that police were still trying to determine whether that bullet had come from Mr. Newell's handgun.
Though Mr. Newell's dispute with local government officials dates back many years, the animosity apparently escalated in February 2012, when, the board voted to take Mr. Newell to court for failing to adhere to local zoning and sewer rules.