Gunman ambushes and kills 3 Pittsburgh officers

April 4, 2009

(ChattahBox) — A gunman identified as Richard Poplawski, 23, ambushed and opened fire on officers he lured in with a domestic disturbance call Saturday, killing three of them.

Lying in wait, wearing a bulletproof vest Poplawski, met officers at the doorway and shot two of them in the head immediately. An officer who tried to help the two also was killed.

While the motive for the shooting isn’t established, friends said the gunman recently had been upset about losing his job and feared the Obama administration was poised to ban guns. Poplawski, was armed with an assault rifle (AK-47) and two other guns, and held police at bay for four hours. Guns don’t kill people, blah, blah, blah.

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.

The incident began around 7 a.m. in the Stanton Heights neighborhood of Pittsburgh, a blue-collar and middle class area home to many of the city’s firefighters and police officers, including Officer Kelly, who lived just four blocks away from the Poplawski home.

Officers Sciullo was the first to the door, with his partner, Officer Mayhle, standing behind him and Officer Kelly just coming onto the scene.

When the door opened, he was “immediately met with gunfire,” and fatally shot in the head, Chief Harper said, followed by another shot that struck Officer Mayhle in the head and killed him.

As the fallen officers were left bleeding nearby, their colleagues unable to reach them, for the next four hours, neighbors reported intermittent gunfire as both sides exchanged hundreds of shots, with Mr. Poplawski shooting from the bedroom window as his mother, who made the 911 call, took refuge in the basement of the home.

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.


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