Seaford native gives the ultimate sacrifice in Pennsylvania shooting
By Lynn R. Parks
Friends aren't surprised that Seaford native David Fleetwood, one of three victims of a shooting that took place in Pennsylvania last week, was killed while trying to help someone else. "That goes along with his character," said Joe Lynch, who, like Fleetwood, was a member of the Seaford High School class of 1969. "He was the kind of person who would always do the right thing."
Fleetwood, 62, was killed last Monday in a shooting in Ross Township, Pa. He was zoning officer for the township and was one of about a dozen people attending a meeting in the township's municipal building when the shooting took place.
State police say that on Monday, Aug. 5, at a little after 7 p.m., Rockne Newell, 59, of Saylorsburg, Pa., walked up to the municipal building carrying a semi-automatic rifle. He fired several rounds at the building, then entered the building and continued to fire, striking Fleetwood and four other people.
Fleetwood died at St. Luke's University Hospital in Fountain Hill, Pa., about an hour after the shooting.
Cleoria Campodonico was one of more than a dozen people who were attending the meeting. She told reporters that Fleetwood sacrificed his life to save hers.
"Dave Fleetwood pushed me out of the way and took the shots," she told reporters with the Morning Call newspaper in Allentown, Pa. "How can I repay his family for that? Dave Fleetwood is a hero. I came home to my family and he didn't."
"I don't know where he came from, but he saved my life," Campodonico told WNET, a television station in Wilkes-Barre and Scranton.
After firing his rifle, Newell left the building, police said. He went outside to his car, got a revolver and headed back inside. Before he could fire any more shots, he was tackled by two of the men in the building; during the struggle, he was shot in the leg with his own revolver.
Police said that when Newell was taken from the building, he called out, "I wish I killed more of them."
In a statement to police following the incident, Newell said that he was angry over "ongoing issues with his property," police said. He intended to kill the supervisors and the township solicitor.
Newspaper reports have said that Newell's property, which the township recently condemned, is a "collection of dilapidated buildings, a rotting camper and heaps of rubbish – beer cans, briefcases, tool boxes, toilets, propane tanks – with planks laid end to end to provide a path through high weeds from the road to the front door of the house."
Fleetwood, 62, was a member of the 1969 graduating class at Seaford High School. He spent four years in the U.S. Air Force and then was hired by IBM to work at its office in Richmond, Va.
He got a promotion and moved to Manassas, Va., and then got another promotion and moved to Bethlehem, Pa. He retired from the Bethlehem IBM office as a manager.
In addition to serving as Ross Township zoning officer, Fleetwood was finishing up his first four-year term as supervisor for the Chestnuthill Township. There, he was helping with the construction of a public park.
Kent Peterson of Seaford was one of Fleetwood's classmates in Seaford High School. "David was a genuinely nice guy," Peterson said. "He was very courteous and friendly, and always had what I would call a positive outlook."
Lynch remembers Fleetwood as a quiet person. "He was studious and I guess what you would call laid back," he said. "And he was always very straight-forward."
Bob Cummings of Seaford grew up with Fleetwood and was in his Seaford High class. On Saturday, he attended Fleetwood's funeral in Brodheadsville, Pa.
"David was a good guy, just an all-round good guy," Cummings said. "He had a dry sense of humor and it's sad, so sad, for him to have to leave this world so soon."
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