Mourners Pay Respects To Slain Pittsburgh Officers

By: Dan Nephin and Ramit Plushnick-Masti, Associated Press Email
By: Dan Nephin and Ramit Plushnick-Masti, Associated Press Email

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Police, friends and family on Monday paid their respects to one of three officers allegedly killed by a gunman whose postings on a white supremacist Web site have come under scrutiny.

Mourners lined up outside a Pittsburgh funeral home for the first of the viewings for the officers, who will lie in state at a municipal building Wednesday and then be remembered at a community memorial service Thursday at a university arena.

Paul Sciullo II, 37; Eric Kelly, 41; and Stephen Mayhle, 29, were killed Saturday responding to a domestic disturbance at the home Richard Poplawski shared with his mother. The woman had called police to their house after threatening to evict him.

Unknown to her, she told police, her 23-year-old son was armed and waiting for the police when they arrived. He shot Sciullo and Mayhle on sight and then killed Kelly during a four-hour siege, police said.

As the city began a week of viewings and funerals, new information emerged about the suspect from his Internet postings.

Friends had said he was upset and angry about losing his job a few months ago, feared that President Barack Obama would take away his gun rights, and believed Jews controlled the news media.

Internet rantings found on a white supremacist Web site, Stormfront.org, indicate Poplawski was preoccupied with the idea that Obama was going to overturn the Second Amendment and that Jews were secretly running the country.

He posted a shirtless picture of himself showing off a large tattoo of a spread-winged eagle below his collarbone.

Postings made by others on the extremist Web site after the Pittsburgh shooting encourage people to buy assault rifles because they suspect the arms will be banned in the wake of a string of mass shootings in the past month, including one in Oakland, Calif., where four officers were killed and another in Binghamton, N.Y., on Friday when a gunman killed 13 people before killing himself.

In January 2007, Poplawski wrote he was considering getting life runes - a common white supremacist symbol also popular with neo-Nazis - tattooed on his calves or other body parts. It is unclear if he went ahead with the plan.

Mark Pitcavage, director of investigative research at the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks killings of law officers by extremists, said Poplawski was chatting on a variety of sites just hours before Saturday's shootings.

During the battle with police, Poplawski was wearing a bulletproof vest and was armed with a variety of weapons, including an AK-47 assault rifle, authorities said.

His friends, who had been to a bar with him three days before the shootings, said he was not acting unusual. But some said he was upset about being laid off from a job at a glass factory and preoccupied by what he feared would be new restrictions on gun ownership.

One of his friends, Aaron Vire, who is black, said he did not believe Poplawski was racist.

Friends had said Poplawski had been booted out of Marine boot camp for throwing a lunch tray at a drill sergeant.

The Marines confirmed he was discharged from boot camp in Parris Island, S.C., in 2004, but said they could not disclose details because of privacy laws.


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