[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/04/07/pitt.officers.shot/art.poplawski.wpxi.jpg caption="Suspect Richard Poplawski, in an undated North Catholic High yearbook photo, is in police custody."]
David Mattingly | BIO
Robert Poplawski was 22, unemployed and living at home with his mother. His best friend said he had been booted out of Marine boot camp after an altercation with his drill instructor. But Poplawski was not your typical slacker. According to the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, two organizations that track hate groups, Poplawski was busy preparing for the violent collapse of society. He was armed, ready to fight and filled with anti-Semitic and racist views.
When Pittsburgh Police officers came to his house after his mother called 911 to have him tossed out, he allegedly wielded an AK-47 assault rifle. In the shootout and standoff that followed, three officers were murdered. There’s a lot being said about the failure of a 911 dispatcher to warn the officers that there were weapons in the house. But researchers for the ADL and the SPLC say there were clues online long before that Poplawski was armed and dangerous.
The groups say he was a frequent visitor and blogger on the white supremacist website Stormfront.org, where he posted racist comments and made clear he believed in conspiracy theories that the Jews were behind an imminent collapse of the United States. He was apparently fearful and angry. Before his MySpace page was taken down for evidence, he reportedly left a note about how he burned the back on his hand with a cigarette, then burned the back of his other hand “for symmetry.”
Even if police had known about the weapons in the house, how could they have known about the young man who was waiting for them and what he was prepared to do?
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