STROUDSBURG – Security was in full force Thursday outside the Monroe County Courthouse for Rockne Newell’s preliminary hearing.
The streets surrounding the courthouse in Stroudsburg were closed and bomb squads, police cruisers and K-9 units surrounded this building all as a precaution.
Emergency management officials in Monroe County say it was all because Rockne Newell was in court. Newell is accused of killing three and hurting others in a mass shooting this past August during a meeting at a Ross Township municipal building.
"This is pretty high-profile and emotions run pretty high. We want to make sure everybody’s protected. The courthouse employees, the community, the defendant, the victims, their families, anybody that was here,” said Monroe County Director of Emergency Management Guy Miller.
The Pike County bomb squad was also called in and the main courtroom was on lockdown, but officials tell Newswatch 16 all of this was precautionary.
"There were no threats at all, none that we were aware of. This was strictly being prepared,” said Miller.
Parking was also restricted and nearby businesses were prepared for the potentially chaotic day. But there were still some people who just happened to stop by the courthouse and stumbled across this scene of emergency vehicles, K-9 units and more and thought the worst had already happened.
"Well I just came to drop off some papers and I get out of my car and I see SWAT and police everywhere,” said Charmain Ottley of Pocono Summit.
Ottley and John Baker just stopped by to drop those papers off at the courthouse while Newell’s preliminary hearing was in session and began wondering just what was going on.
"Maybe there was somebody with a gun or there was something that was going on in the courthouse,” said John Baker of Dalton.
Baker and Ottley say they’re thankful for extra security and that nothing happened.
"Yeah, it is kind of scary, yeah, seeing everybody with the guns out and the SWAT jackets and everything yeah,” said Ottley.
Emergency Management officials say they plan to review the security measures and determine how much security needs to be on hand for Newell’s future court dates.
A district justice determined that there was enough evidence to send Newell to trial.