Township official honored for saving others in shooting rampage at municipal building

122214-kozen
Bernard Kozen stands near the scene where a shooting occurred at the Ross Township Municipal Building. Kozen who helped subdue a gunman charged with killing three people at a municipal meeting last year is among 19 people being honored with medals and cash from the Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Heroes Fund Commission. (AP photo)

A township official in the Poconos is being honored for saving others during a shooting a rampage at a Monroe County municipal building.

Bernard Kozen is among the latest recipients of the Carnegie Hero Fund's medal. The award recognizes people who risk their own lives to save others, and the fund's commission announced its latest round of medal winners this morning.

Kozen, a 56-year-old parks director, helped tackle alleged gunman Rockne Newell when Newell opened fire at a Ross Township supervisors' meeting in August 2013.

Newell, upset over a lengthy feud with the township over his property, is accused of killing three people and injuring three others in the shooting that rocked the rural community in the Poconos.

In describing Kozen's actions, the Carnegie Hero Fund said: "Kozen stepped from the office and, although a course to the building’s front door was open to him, entered the meeting room and charged the assailant from behind."

As Kozen fought with Newell for control of the gun, another man joined the struggle, and "together he and Kozen overpowered the assailant, taking him to the floor. They disarmed and held him until police arrived and arrested him," the commisison said.

In the days after the harrowing incident, police described Kozen and the other man, meeting attendee Mark Krashe, as heroes.

"They wrestled with him even as he was firing rounds from his revolver," State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said at the time. The two men "undoubtedly" saved the lives of others, he said.

Killed in the attack were 64-year-old James V. LaGuardia and 53-year-old Gerard Kozic, both of Saylorsburg, and 62-year-old David Fleetwood, the township zoning officer. Kozic's wife, Linda, was injured, as were Frank Piraino and Howard Beers, a township supervisor.

Kozen was one of 19 people announced as award winners today. Medal winners, or their survivors, receive financial grants.


Contact Emily Babay at 215-854-2153 or ebabay@philly.com. Follow @emilybabay on Twitter.

Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443 or BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillydotcom on Twitter.