You know, life moves fast and sometimes we don’t get around to doing things we wanted to do. One of those things, for me, was putting up a particular post on this blog last August. I had wanted to put up this post because August 5, 2014, marked the 1-year anniversary of the Ross Township shooting. News of that tragedy hit me pretty hard. Three people died in the attack but I, from my time as a West End reporter, only knew one — Dave Fleetwood. On the night of the tragedy, just before I went to bed — I was already living in Germany at the time – I took out a personal journal I was then keeping and wrote about Fleetwood and my thoughts on the tragedy.
What I had wanted to post to this blog last August was that exact journal entry. Though I regret not posting a reproduction of this entry in a more timely manner, I guess the saying, “better late than never” can apply. Below is what I wrote that night, verbatim. I still think about David Fleetwood.
Well, what can I say. Today I got some f—ed up news from the U.S. I learned that a gunman stormed the Ross Township building during a monthly supervisors meeting and killed three people, including someone I used to know. The gunman killed Dave Fleetwood, who is the supervisor of Chestnuthill Township and the zoning codes officer of Ross.
I’m stunned and sad. Real sad. This guy, Dave Fleetwood. He was a good guy. He liked to joke around, in his funny, dry way. I spoke with him several times and was really hoping that he wasn’t going to be one of the victims. But he was. When I learned today that it was Mr. Fleetwood who in fact was killed, I yelled out “f—!” I didn’t even mean to yell that. It just sorta came out.
I just can’t believe he’s gone. I don’t know. Dave wasn’t that outgoing, but he definitely acknowledge me when I would show up to meetings while working for the Pocono Record. Some supervisors at some townships, believe it or not, wouldn’t acknowledge me. But Dave did. I also remember he gave me a story tip. I had shown up to the Ross Township building one day looking for someone but that person wasn’t there. But Dave was there and he recommended that I do a story on the E-911 readdressing stuff. I said that I’d look into it and did. The story didn’t materialize because it had been done. But still. It was nice of him to have given me a tip.
One of the strongest recollections I have of Dave is also, ironically, one I can’t exactly remember. It was at the Chestnuthill Township building and it was at night. Oh, wait, I think I know what happened. I showed up to the Chestnuthill building at around 8 p.m. in early April . It was for a supervisors meeting and it was a rainy night. When I got to the building, I saw through a glass door that no one except the supervisors was in attendance. Anyway, all the supervisors were sitting at a long table at the front of the room, the town-hall room. They were sitting under a light, talking. The door to this town-hall room was locked and I was outside, looking in, getting rained on. I knocked on the door, which, again, was made of glass, and Dave Fleetwood, who along with the other supervisors was able to clearly see me, pretended he couldn’t hear or see me even though he and the other supervisors obviously could. (They had a direct line of sight at the glass door, which was about 20 feet from their table.) And so I, the unfortunate butt of this little joke, stood for a few more moments in the pouring rain. Eventually, one of the supervisors — it might have even been Fleetwood — got up, let me in and we all had a big laugh about it.
Another memory I have of Fleetwood: I was at another meeting and there was a heated discussion going on and I was sitting in the front row and I wanted to ask a question but for some reason I couldn’t. Dave, who was sitting at the head table in front, saw on my face that I wanted to ask a question and he actually knew from the context and from my pained look what the question was. Once he got all this, he actually interrupted the meeting and said, “But wait. I think Chad wants to ask a question and I think I know what the question is.” He did, and answered it. I remember being very impressed.
Two other people were killed in this attack that claimed Fleetwood’s life. But Fleetwood was the only township official. The other folks were regular citizens. The gunman, apparently, was someone who had a long-standing feud with the township. I guess the township condemned his property or something. The Pocono Record quoted the gunman as saying he wish he would have killed more people. A Pocono Record reporter was even at the meeting! My replacement!
But anyway, yeah, Dave Fleetwood. I’m really sad. And the gun culture in America…something really needs to be fixed. But Dave was a good guy. And now all this…now all this.