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Gunman 'lying in wait' kills 3 Pittsburgh officers

Discussion in 'Legal & Political Archive' started by CharlesAFerg, Apr 4, 2009.

  1. CharlesAFerg

    CharlesAFerg Beaverton Active Member

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    "armed with an assault rifle"



    Gunman 'lying in wait' kills 3 Pittsburgh officers

    By RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI and DAN NEPHIN, Associated Press Writers Ramit Plushnick-masti And Dan Nephin, Associated Press Writers – 26 mins ago

    PITTSBURGH – A gunman wearing a bulletproof vest and "lying in wait" opened fire on officers responding to a domestic disturbance call Saturday, killing three of them and turning a quiet Pittsburgh street into a battlefield, police said.

    Police Chief Nate Harper said the motive for the shooting isn't clear, but friends said the gunman recently had been upset about losing his job and feared the Obama administration was poised to ban guns.

    Richard Poplawski, 23, met officers at the doorway and shot two of them in the head immediately, Harper said. An officer who tried to help the two also was killed.

    Poplawski, armed with an assault rifle and two other guns, then held police at bay for four hours as the fallen officers were left bleeding nearby, their colleagues unable to reach them, according to police and witnesses. More than 100 rounds were fired by the SWAT teams and Poplawski, Harper said.

    The three slain officers were Eric Kelly, 41, Stephen Mayhle, 29, and Paul Sciullo III, 37. Kelly had been on the force for 14 years, Mayhle and Sciullo for two years each. Another officer, Timothy McManaway, was shot in the hand and a fifth broke his leg on a fence.

    Poplawski had gunshot wounds in his legs but was otherwise unharmed because he was wearing a bulletproof vest, Harper said. He was charged with three counts of homicide, aggravated assault and a weapons violation.

    The shooting occurred just two weeks after four police officers were fatally shot in Oakland, Calif., in the deadliest day for U.S. law enforcement since Sept. 11, 2001. The officers were the first Pittsburgh city officers to die in the line of duty in 18 years.

    "This is a solemn day and it's a very sad day in the city of Pittsburgh," Harper said. "We've seen this kind of violence happen in California. We never would think this kind of violence would happen in the city of Pittsburgh."

    At 7 a.m., Sciullo and Mayhle responded to a 911 call from Poplawski's mother, who remained holed up in the basement during the entire dispute and escaped unharmed, Harper said.

    When they arrived at the home, Sciullo was immediately shot in the head. Mayhle, who was right behind him, was also shot in the head.

    "It appears he was lying in wait for the officers," Harper said.

    Kelly, who was on his way home after completing his overnight shift when he heard the call for help, rushed to the scene and was killed trying to help Sciullo and Mayhle, Harper said. SWAT teams and other officers arrived and were immediately fired on as well.

    Don Sand, who lives across the street from Poplawski, said he was woken up by the sound of gunfire. Hunkering down behind a wall in his home, he saw the first two officers go down and then saw Kelly get shot.

    "They couldn't get the scene secure enough to get to them. They were just lying there bleeding," Sand said. "By the time they secured the scene enough to get to them it was way too late."

    Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson, who lives nearby, was one of the first officers to arrive. He saw Mayhle by a bush to the right of the door; Kelly was in the street and McManaway, his hand injured, was kneeling beside him, yelling that Kelly needed help.

    Donaldson suggested using a police van to get them. They draped a bulletproof vest on the window to protect the driver and several officers got into the van to get Kelly and McManaway.

    During this time, Poplawski was somehow distracted, Donaldson said.

    "We were fortunate that he didn't fire on us. I don't know why he was distracted, but he apparently didn't see us coming down to get them," he said. "It could have been worse."

    Poplawski had feared "the Obama gun ban that's on the way" and "didn't like our rights being infringed upon," said Edward Perkovic, his best friend.

    Perkovic, 22, said he got a call at work from him in which he said, "Eddie, I am going to die today. ... Tell your family I love them and I love you."

    Perkovic said: "I heard gunshots and he hung up. ... He sounded like he was in pain, like he got shot."

    Poplawski had once tried to join the Marines, but was kicked out of boot camp after throwing a food tray at a drill sergeant, Perkovic said.

    Another longtime friend, Aaron Vire, said Poplawski feared that President Barack Obama was going to take away his rights, though he said he "wasn't violently against Obama."

    Vire, 23, said Poplawski once had an Internet talk show but that it wasn't successful. He said Poplawski owned an AK-47 rifle and several powerful handguns, including a .357 Magnum.

    Obama has said he respects Americans' constitutional right to bear arms, but that he favors "common sense" gun laws. Gun rights advocates interpret that as meaning he would approve some curbs on assault and concealed weapons.

    Poplawski had been laid off from his job at a glass factory earlier this year, said another friend, Joe DiMarco. DiMarco said he didn't know the name of the company, but knew his friend had been upset about it.

    The last Pittsburgh police officers killed in the line of duty were Officers Thomas L. Herron and Joseph J. Grill, according to a Web site that tracks police killings. They died after their patrol car collided with another vehicle while chasing a stolen car on March 6, 1991.

    In 1995, an off-duty officer was shot with his own gun after he confronted a group of teenagers about graffiti. Tests later showed the officer had been drinking.

    According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 133 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty in 2008, a 27 percent decrease from year before and the lowest annual total since 1960.

    Poplawski had often fought with neighbors and had even gotten into fist fights with a couple, Sand said.

    "This is a relatively really quiet neighborhood except for him," Sand said. "He was just one of those kids that we knew to stay clear from."

    Harper confirmed police had responded to calls from the Poplawski house several times but said the incidents were still being investigated.

    Rob Gift, 45, who lives a block away, said the well-kept single-family houses with manicured lawns are home to many police officers, firefighters, paramedics and other city workers.

    "It's just a very quiet neighborhood," Gift said.
  2. clearconscience

    clearconscience Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    I was just reading this.
    And if you note in the article it says he was discharged from the military for throwing a tray at a drill sargent.
    So first off, after shooting after shooting in the country some dumb demy is going to say this is why we shouldn't have "assault rifles".
    But lets get to the real problem. We shouldn't ban assault rifles, we should ban stupid crazy people from having assault rifles, or any guns for that matter.
    Or how about this instead of putting this guy in jail, put him in the chair!

    Everytime I see there's another shooting I cringe and wait to here from the gov't saying see this is why we should ban this, or make you have ID cards for that.

    This guy was fearing the gov't taking our guns and became the best reason for their argument.
  3. Mutoman

    Mutoman North Bend Active Member

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    Obviously this guy was off his rocker, why else would one ambush police officers, the very guys who would take a bullet to protect him. Most police officers I know are on the pro-gun side of the argument, but instances like this are going to be quick to turn many of them against normally law abiding citizens having guns.

    I often ask myself, if one wanted to really get back at the element that damages our rights by creating a hostile society, why they do not go deep into gang or drug territory and make use of their murder/suicide urges. Instead they take their aggression out on classes of citizens who do not deserve nor have done anything to warrant the pain and suffering these dill weeds inflict on them.

    I feel terrible for the families of those officers slain, and I feel anger towards this man who served such evil on their community.
  4. BUZO71

    BUZO71 Emerald Valley, Oregon New Member

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    I think you'd be surprised.. this probably isn't going to change cops minds about gun owners. Most are gun owners themselves and see the need for civilians who protect themselves legally. :thumbup:
  5. CharlesAFerg

    CharlesAFerg Beaverton Active Member

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    Except in New Orleans... :sleep:
  6. NWMoss

    NWMoss Lost, permanently... Member

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    Correct, except for New Orleans.
  7. kirkcdl

    kirkcdl Roseburg,ORYGUN Member

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    The biggest problem in New Orleans was the Kalifornia Highway Patrol...
  8. jordanvraptor

    jordanvraptor Oregon City, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    I was in New Orleans with my National Guard unit. Granted my situational awareness was limited, but I saw New Orleans cops driving Escalades and wearing their NOPD ball caps like a thug out of a rap video... Our unit never forced anyone to leave and was told many times by people they were glad we were here as they did not trust the police.

    Hope a new ban won't pass but it could be worse if they try to classify them as a class 3 weapon like they did with the streetsweeper and USAS 12.
  9. RallySoob

    RallySoob Salem, OR Active Member

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    From what I have seen in the news lately it seems like more people experiencing harsh changes in their lives are doing these shootings as opposed to before when it seemed like only mentaly disturbed teenagers were doing them

    One shooting after another lately... Notice how most of these stories have 'job loss' or other related contributing factors? Wall Street started this unrest and our gov allowed them to do it. Using the American people's money in the bailout was the biggest scam on the people in American history. Now that they have pissed everyone off they want to 'help us' by taking away our means of protection against the unrest they have caused?

    The country is internaly bleeding like never before. This mess is beyond any easy fixes, we're definately going to see changes. It's hard for me to comprehend anymore because I feel that there probably should be some sort of mental health evaluation but then I feel giving them the power to decide who can and cant bear arms would be even more dangerous. I'm not so sure all these shooters we have been reading about fall under the same criteria of mentaly unstable.
  10. Scott

    Scott Battle Ground Well-Known Member

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    First I feel sorry for these people killed and it should have not happened. I pray for their families and friends. Another thing is we have to stop using the term assault weapon because we do not have any. When I was in the service those where assault weapons. That term is so misused and it confuses people and they see any black gun and they think it is an assualt weapon. I also keep writings on automatic handguns and that is not correct either. Anti-gunners in their eyes every gun is an automatic and they need to understand the truth.

  11. RallySoob

    RallySoob Salem, OR Active Member

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    another thing... If this guy was dishonorably discharged from the Marines as reported, isn't he illegal to own firearms in the 1st place? And his mother claimed she knew he was stock piling....hmmm? Isn't she liable to some extent?

    Listen to the way the news spins this into people that stock up on ammo/guns are bad
  12. Mutoman

    Mutoman North Bend Active Member

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    The mental health issue, whether it be temporary mental illness or long term clinical mental illness, I feel is bursting at the door of media coverage.;I am surprised that the major media has not pushed this issue to the forefront of debate.

    As a proponent of firearm rights and a concerned citizen, I fear this issue as much as I see the importance for some sort of solution. Anyone who has ever filled out a concealed permit application knows that the mental status area in the form is merely a formality that relies on the honesty of the applicant in providing information. Currently there is no way on knowing whether one purchasing a firearm is mentally stable enough to own that firearm, other than their behavior at the gun shop or a prior arrest record.

    Pursuing this issue can have detrimental effects on gun owners, especially those who have ever told their doctor that they were stressed at work or feeling some sort of depression, for the only real means of determining ones mental aptitude is through his or her doctor. Putting the weight of decision on a doctor to determine whether a citizen may own a firearm is a disaster waiting to happen for there are not many doctors that would be willing to put their careers and livelihoods on the chopping block by having to decide who is going to commit a firearm crime and who is not.

    Second Amendment aside, we all know that firearms rights are under the knife and that those firearms getting into the hands of criminals and persons who come under the guise of temporary mental illness is not helping our case. Overall, I do not believe that gun owners can rely completely on sitting on the Second Amendment bench; we must contribute to some sort of direction of cure for those issues that challenge our rights.

    Fighting legislation is one approach; fighting the cause of legislation can help keep that legislation from reoccurring.
  13. Dutchy556

    Dutchy556 Bend, OR Member

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    Buy your armor now before it's banned...

    The way things are going you might need it...
  14. Weathermaker

    Weathermaker Washington Member

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    Armor Up.............