Just Another Guy with Opinions

Pittsburgh Cops Ambushed, 3 Killed

Posted by shadmia on April 5, 2009

Poplawski's Mother and GrandmotherOfficer DownPoliceRichard "Pop" Poplawski

Richard “Pop” Poplawski, 23, of the Stanton Heights area of Pittsburgh is a killer, responsible for the deaths of three police officers. The officers were responding to a domestic disturbance call placed by Poplawski’s mother, Margaret Poplawski, 41, on Saturday morning April 4, 2009. Police Chief Nathan Harper said there had been at least two previous calls to that residence for domestic problems. Neighbors say that there had been many more such calls over the years as mother and son would get into fights.

Typically, the police “would come and be the peacemaker, and it would be over,” said Geraldine Lejpras, who lives across the street from the Poplawskis. “But not this time.”

It all began about 7 am when officers responded to a call at the Poplawski residence. Richard Poplawski was waiting for them. He wore a bullet-proof jacket and was armed with an AK-47 rifle, a .22 long rifle and a pistol.

The officers, Paul Sciullo III and his partner Stephen Mayhle, were not aware that they were walking into a death trap. As they approached the front door officer Sciullo was in the lead followed closely by his partner. When the door opened the officers were greeted with gunfire. Both officers were caught unaware and fatally shot in the head.

That was when officer Eric Kelly – whose shift had just ended and was returning home – heard the call and decided to check out the situation. He arrived just in time to see his fellow officers being shot. A neighbor, Michele Ostrowski, said she saw the scene unfold when Officer Kelly arrived.

“He got out of the car and I saw him get shot and he landed on the sidewalk,” Ms. Ostrowski said in a telephone interview, her voice shaking.

Officer Kelly, who was critically wounded, managed to call for assistance. The next officer to arrive, Timothy McManaway, was shot in the hand as he rushed to help Officer Kelly, though he managed to fire at Mr. Poplawski, possibly wounding him in the leg.

That was the beginning of a gun battle that would go on for the next four hours between Poplawski and the police as the three wounded officers lay dying outside his house. During the shootout another officer, Brian Jones who was trying to slip behind the house broke his leg climbing a fence.

“It sounded like an actual war zone,” said Georgia Marciniak, who lives just behind the Poplawskis’ home. “It was absolutely scary.”

The standoff came to an end about 11 am when Poplawski gave up and surrendered to the police. He was led out of the house in handcuffs, bloodied from wounds to his thigh and right shoulder.


Dead are:

  • Paul Sciullo III, a two-year veteran of the force. He was single and leaves behind his parents and two siblings.
  • Stephen Mayhle, a two-year veteran of the force. He was married and leaves behind his wife and two daughters.
  • Eric Kelly, a 14-year veteran of the force. He was married and leaves behind his wife and three daughters.

Police chief Nate Harper says the motive for Saturday’s shooting isn’t clear. Friends say the gunman recently had been upset about losing his job and that he feared the Obama administration was poised to ban guns.

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

While he was battling the police from his house, Poplawski found time to call his friend Edward Perkovic around 8:30 am:

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.”

“This was a complete surprise to me and my family and everyone’s families that were friends with him. Nobody ever expected something like this from him,” said Perkovic.

As it turns out this was not the first time Poplawski has been in trouble with the law:

Poplawski is charged with three counts of criminal homicide – relating to the shootings of officers Eric Kelly, Paul Sciullo III and Stephen Mayhle – and a count of aggravated assault against Officer Timothy McManaway, who suffered a hand wound.

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One Response to “Pittsburgh Cops Ambushed, 3 Killed”

  1. GEORGE said

    The Men and Woman of The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 34 Atlantic County N.J. offer our deepest sympathy.
    We cannot know your pain, but our hearts go out to you and your families. May God be with you and give you strength to overcome this tragedy and begin to heal your wounds.

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