Saturday, April 04, 2009

Richard Poplawski: Was Pittsburgh shooter driven by right-wing gun paranoia about Obama?

-- by Dave

We're gathering more information about Richard Polawski, the 23-year-old man who decided to kill four Pittsburgh police officers and wound five others because it appears he was afraid they -- at the behest of the Obama administration -- were going to take his guns away.

The initial reports indicated he was fearful that the Obama administration was going to "take away his guns."

A man opened fire on officers during a domestic disturbance call Saturday morning, killing three of them, a police official said. Friends said he feared the Obama administration was poised to ban guns.

Three officers were killed, said a police official at the scene who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. Police spokeswoman Diane Richard would only say that at least five officers were wounded, but wouldn't give any other details.

... One friend, Edward Perkovic, said the gunman 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 he feared that President Obama was going to take away his rights, though he said he "wasn't violently against Obama."

Perkovic, a 22-year-old who said he was the gunman's best friend, 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."

He feared an Obama gun grab? Gee, I wonder where he could have heard that.

Indeed, a story replete with NRA-style fearmongering about the looming "grab" -- which has been fueling a run on guns at local shops -- ran just three days ago in the Pittsburgh Tribune.

We've been reporting for awhile on the surge in gun sales, and how the paranoia around guns is making the more unstable elements of the right particularly edgy. Inevitably, that edginess is going to break out into actual violence -- as it appears to have done today.

Ironically, this is exactly the kind of incident that law-enforcement intelligence-gathering is supposed to help prevent -- intelligence like the Missouri State Patrol report so hysterically attacked by these same paranoid right-wingers. I tried to explain at the time that these kinds of extremists are in fact a very real danger to people in law enforcement, but all anyone on the right wanted to talk about was Ron Paul bumper stickers. Well, there you go.

Police say he was lying in wait in a carefully planned ambush:

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.

Poplawski_b921c.JPGAnd he was paranoid about the Obama administration taking people's guns away -- even though, of course, there have been no indications of any such plans beyond NRA rantings:

Poplawski 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.

Dennis Roddy at the Post-Gazette has more:

Friends described a Richard Poplawski far different from the 22-year-old man accused of gunning down three police officers today -- a partier sometimes, a guy in search of an understanding of politics, even a walking comedian.

He was also convinced that the government wanted to take away his guns and his freedom.

There are bits about him out on the Internet. There are the MySpace photos, like the one above. He also seems to have co-created an "Insane Ownage" video for You Tube.

Perhaps just as interesting are the views of Poplowski's much-quoted "best friend," Edd Perkovic, whose MySpace page, as Troll Report notices, is rich anti-Semitic hate talk like this:

DOCUMENTS I RECCOMEND YOU READ BY GOOGLE: "Civil War II" by Tom Chittum "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" "The Turner Diaries" by Dr. William Pierce "Jewish Supremacy" by Dr. David Duke It Has Even Been Documented In The Communist Manifesto: "“We must realize that our party’s most powerful weapon is racial tension. "By propounding into the consciousness of the dark races that for centuries they have been oppressed by the whites, we can mold them to the program of the Communist Party. "In America we will aim for subtle victory. While inflaming the Negro minority against the whites, we will endeavour to instill in the whites a guilt complex for their exploitation of the Negros. "We will aid the Negros to rise to prominence in every walk of life, in the professions, and in the world of sports and entertainment.

Meanwhile, Fox also interviewed Tom Moffit, who was a neighbor of Poplawski's. He apparently believed that Poplawski was acting out of gun paranoia as well.

My new book is looking more timely all the time. We'll have an announcement about it Monday.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

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