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SAYLORSBURG, Penn. — He first thought it was fireworks. That’s what a man who helped take down a shooter who killed three people at a rural Pennsylvania township board meeting Monday night thought he was hearing.
The man, who doesn’t want to be identified, told CNN’s Poppy Harlow on Tuesday morning that the shooter had walked into the meeting in Monroe County and began firing while yelling, “They stole my land! They stole my land!”
“Everyone ran for cover,” the man recalled.
For a brief, crucial moment, the shooting stopped. Police say the shooter left the meeting to change guns.
The man who spoke to CNN said that during that break, he and others frantically called 911 at the Ross Township board of supervisors meeting.
But he said the gunman returned and started firing again.
In those chaotic moments, the man told CNN, he heard the voice of Bernie Kozen, the director of a local park preservation group.
Kozen was “telling the guy ‘give me the gun, give me the gun,’” the man recalled.
At some point, Kozen grabbed the shooter and the man who spoke to CNN said he jumped in to help, saying he “punched, kicked, pulled the handgun from the shooter’s hand” and helped pull the shooter to the ground.
“Bernie held the bottom half of his body, then I stood on the shooter’s neck,” the man told CNN.
He and Kozen tied the shooter’s arms up with a jacket, he said.
Tuesday morning, the suspect in the shooting, Rockne Newell, was arraigned on charges of criminal homicide, Pennsylvania State Police Sgt. Brian Vadell said. Newell was in Monroe County jail during the video arraignment, Vadell said. No plea was entered.
Two men tackled the shooter — even as rounds were fired, authorities said.
State police Lt. Robert Bartal praised the men during a Tuesday press conference, saying that had they not acted, it could have been a much worse bloodbath at this small town meeting, about 70 miles north of Philadelphia.
“It’s certainly courageous what they did, and they absolutely would have saved lives,” Bartal said.
Authorities found 90 rounds of ammunition in the gunman’s vehicle, they said Tuesday.
The shooter killed three people and wounded several others, authorities said.
Authorities Tuesday released the names of the three killed — James V. LaGuardia, 64, David Fleetwood, 62, and Gerard J. Kozic, 53.
Kozi is married to a woman who was injured, Bartal and state police Lt. George Bivens said.
The man who spoke to CNN said he didn’t recognize the shooter and didn’t know who he was, but said the photos shown in media of Newell match the man he helped tackle.
Newell was one of three people taken to a hospital after the shooting and later released, Geoffrey Roche, spokesman for the Pocono Medical Center, told CNN Tuesday.
The Pocono Record newspaper in a story on June 10, said Newell, after an 18-year battle, had been ordered last year to vacate his property, which was called an eyesore by the board of supervisors, the elected body that sets policies and laws for the community of 5,400.