Two more mass shootings – who is to blame?

A young man in Pittsburgh went berserk after his mother called 911 during an argument with him. He opened fire on the police officers answering the 911 call. Three officers were killed, and two more were injured:

The complaint says Margaret Poplawski called 911 about 7 a.m. Saturday to report that her son was “giving her a hard time.”

She told police she awoke to discover that “the dog had urinated on the floor,” and awakened her son “to confront him about it.”

The two had an argument, and Margaret Poplawski told her son she was calling police to remove him from her home, according to the complaint. When officers Stephen Mayhle and Paul Sciullo III arrived, she opened the door and let them in.

“Mrs. Poplawski reported that as the officers entered approximately 10 feet into the residence, she heard gunshots, turned and saw her son about six feet away with a long rifle in his hands, at which point she fled downstairs after asking him, ‘What the hell have you done?'” the complaint said.

Margaret Poplawski reported she stayed in the basement during the standoff, and heard her son yell, “Yeah, I’ve been shot,” and “I’m standing down, come in and help me,” according to the complaint.

Police Chief Nathan Harper identified the dead officers as Eric Kelly, Mayhle and Sciullo. Kelly was a 14-year veteran of the department; the other two had worked there for two years each.

The chief said Sciullo was the first to approach the home, and was shot in the head as he entered the doorway. When Mayhle tried to help his fellow officer, he also was shot in the head. Kelly arrived at the scene and was shot before he could aid the other two officers, Harper said.

Harper said the suspect fired from a bedroom window, shooting at an armored vehicle carrying a SWAT team — preventing those officers and medics from reaching the wounded policemen.


Margaret Poplawski told police her son had enlisted in the Marine Corps a few years ago, but was discharged for assaulting his drill sergeant in basic training, according to the complaint. Since his discharge, she told police, he had been “stockpiling guns and ammunition, buying and selling the weapons online, because he believed that as a result of the economic collapse, the police were no longer able to protect society. Mrs. Poplawski reported that her son only liked police when they were not curtailing his constitutional rights, which he was determined to protect,” the complaint said.

The suspect, 22 year old Richard Poplawski, was arrested and will be charged with the murder of the three police officers.


Early news reports seized on comments made by Poplawski’s friends, who suggested that he feared an Obama-instigated gun ban. So this bunch of hardcore Lefties blames Glenn Beck specifically, and conservative “paranoia” in general. Personally, I find it puzzling that no one on the Left ever points the finger at their own minions, who for eight years screamed and raged about fascism and the Fourth Reich and the destruction of the Constitution and how George W. Bush would suspend elections and order the National Guard into the streets and install himself as dictator-for-life. That’s not out-of-control paranoia? That’s not derangement?

Twenty years ago, liberals pooh-poohed the efforts of Tipper Gore and others to warn parents about the music that their children were listening to. Nobody listens to the words, they argued. If some kid jumps off a bridge, he’s the only one responsible. Don’t blame “entertainers” for the way others interpret their work. My, how times change.

In Graham, Washington, 15 miles southeast of Tacoma, a father shot and killed his five children in their home before fatally shooting himself in his car, after driving to a casino 18 miles away. The father, James Harrison, reportedly fought with his wife the previous day, and immediately following their argument she left. Neighbors also reported that Harrison could often be heard yelling at his family, and that sheriff’s deputies had been called to the Harrison residence several times.


Perhaps a better question to ask would be, what has robbed these people of the joy of life, and left them with nothing but a wrecked existence nourished only by paranoia and hopelessness? What caused a fear so intense that it could only be resolved by the taking of innocent life? How can anyone with a shred of intellectual honesty even think about tying these events into something as existentially insignificant as partisan politics?

Undoubtedly there were many among us who believed in the promise of a new era of openness, understanding, and hope. Yet today, we seem to be no closer to that promise than we were six months, or a year, or ten years ago. In many respects, politics only poisons the human condition and never cures it. And as long as we use tragedy as a weapon to harm our enemies, it will be too powerful a thing for us to ever willfully abandon.
ADDED: Related linkage —

Little Green Footballs notes that Richard Poplawski was a conspiracy nut with connections to the neo-Nazi group Stormfront. It’s pretty obvious that he wasn’t playing with a full deck; in other words, his shooting spree was not part of some kind of coordinated right-wing “rebellion.”

Confederate Yankee remembers Andrew Mickel, a radical left-winger and early IndyMedia contributor who murdered a police officer in 2002, as well as the Unabomber, who wasn’t exactly a conservative. Speaking of left-wing killers and radicals, may I humbly add Bill Ayres and Bernadine Dohrn to the list?

And at The Volokh Conspiracy, Jim Lindgren revisits his Ph.D. research some years ago that linked racism and long-term repressed anger more strongly with progressives and redistributionists, rather than with those who identified themselves as conservatives and supporters of the free market. He also notes the much larger percentage of convicted violent criminals who identify themselves as Democrats, compared to those who identify themselves as Republicans.

Once again we see the Left involved in an outrageous example of speck and beam hypocrisy that would be laughable if not for the tragic nature of the subject. I think Confederate Yankee sums it up nicely:

Anger, is an emotion. It is apolitical and amoral, neither right nor wrong nor identifiable with a party affiliation. It is how a person choses to channel anger into action that defines him as good or evil or benign.

A person could channel his anger and fear of an Administration’s clear desire to restrict Constitutional rights in a good way by becoming politically active and working to make sure others know of the infringements the President desires.

Or a person could use his anger and channel them into evil actions, such as murdering police officers… or use the story about those murders, along with willful lies and half truths, to attack others for a momentary political advantage.

Both are evil acts.

It’s simply a matter of degree.

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