ROSS TOWNSHIP — A woman from the Poconos says she was saved by one of the men killed in the Ross Township tragedy. She returned to the scene to mourn on Wednesday after witnessing the chaos inside that meeting room Monday night.
The funerals for the victims of Monday night’s deadly shooting at the Ross Township municipal building will begin this weekend but the public mourning has already begun.
People have left flowers at the municipal building where it all happened, including a woman who survived the shooting.
Cleoria Campodonico was at the Ross Township supervisors meeting Monday night when all of a sudden she said the room was filled with gunfire. She says victim David Fleetwood pushed her out of the way, sacrificing himself to save her life.
“I don’t know where he came from, but he saved my life. i came home to my family and he didn’t,” she said. “In our memories, our hearts, our hometown hero, peace be with you.”
Most of all, her bouquet is a thank you to David Fleetwood of Saylorsburg. He was one of the three men shot and killed. She says Fleetwood pushed her aside as the bullets were flying. He was shot instead.
“I’m sorry but he is a hero in my eyes. I didn’t ask for him to get shot but he did what he had to do to help others and he is a hero,” she said.
Campodonico described what seemed like never-ending gun shots Monday night.
“We were sitting in the room. We were on agenda four when all hell broke loose.”
She says as suspect Rockne Newell rained terror down, she called 911 pleading for help.
“I told them there’s a lot of shooting and people are hurt and people are dead and they said ‘Ma’am, you need to get off the phone and take cover’ and I said ‘there’s no place to hide,'” she recalled. “My second call was to my husband to tell him I loved him and say I’m not coming home.”
While the municipal building has become a spot of quiet mourning, there is a clear reminder of the chaos there Monday night: the bullet-shattered window in front.
“I can’t go back in there ever again. Ever.”
But she did return on this day and first went to hug and thank the neighbor across the street Dave Labar. He heard the shots, and came with a gun trying to help.
“I don’t sleep too well. I’ve been trying to keep myself busy so I don’t think about it,” Labar said.
Two days later he was clearing brush as a distraction for the awful things he saw, including doing CPR on a victim.
“His wife was right next to him screaming at us to help him and we did what we thought was best.”
But as flowers gather as a memorial to the dead, those who witnessed the killings are feeling fortunate.
“I didn’t think I was coming home. Thanks to Mr. Fleetwood I was able to go home.”
Cleoria Campodonico didn’t have harsh words for shooting suspect Rockne Newell. She said he couldn’t be in the right frame of mind. She believes if he were, he never could have taken innocent lives.
Click here to read all Newswatch 16 stories on the Ross Township tragedy.