Address tragedy logically

It’s not unusual for local residents, including disgruntled ones, to attend a governmental meeting to address leaders with decision-making power.

But most people who attend bring their words and not their guns.

Like many, we were stunned and saddened to hear that Rockne Newell, a disabled junk dealer who was angry with Ross Township leaders in Saylorsville, Monroe County, blasted a barrage of gunfire into the meeting room of a municipal building on Monday night.

He wound up shooting five people and killing three.

In an affidavit outlining criminal charges, state police said Newell, 59, “intended to shoot the solicitor and supervisors and thought that he would then be killed.”

But it didn’t work out that way because a township resident and the township’s park and recreation director tackled Newell, who was shot in the leg during the scuffle and subsequently arrested.

While this incident might prompt local leaders to ask what they can do to prevent such an incident, we urge them to rely on common sense.

That kind of shooting was a rarity in our state with 2,662 municipalities. And since it occurred, many township meetings have been held without incident.

If local officials feel a need to take some kind of action in response, we urge them to remain alert for potential trouble and to do something they may already be doing.

It’s not unusual for a township to summon a police officer or officers to a meeting when they know they’re going to be addressing a volatile issue. And sometimes, an angry resident will be ordered to leave a meeting if they show no sign of controlling their language or their behavior.

Those are understandable measures that, in most cases, will allow municipal leaders and those attending their meeting to remain safe.

Anything more, in reaction to this incident, can be viewed as excessive.