By RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh police say a man wearing a bulletproof vest opened fire on officers during a domestic disturbance call, killing three of them.
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.
The three dead officers are Eric Kelly, Stephen Mayhle and Paul Sciullo III. Kelly had been on the force for 14 years and the other two only two years each. Another officer was shot in the hand and a fifth broke his leg on a fence.
The gunman, 23-year-old Richard Poplawski, was arrested after a four-hour standoff.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
PITTSBURGH (AP) — A man opened fire on officers during a domestic disturbance call Saturday morning, killing three of them, a police official said. Friends said he recently had been upset about losing his job and that he feared the Obama administration was poised to ban guns.
Neighbors described how a quiet street in the city’s Stanton Heights neighborhood turned into a battlefield with hundreds of rounds cracking through the morning air and fallen police officers lying bleeding in the street, their colleagues unable to reach them.
Three officers were killed, said a police official at the scene who spoke on condition of anonymity because was not authorized to talk to the media. Police spokeswoman Diane Richard would only say that at least five officers were wounded, but wouldn’t give any other details.
Friends identified the suspect as Richard Poplawski, 23, but police would not immediately confirm his name. The gunman was arrested after a four-hour standoff, police said.
The shooting occurred just two weeks after four police officers were fatally shot March 21 in Oakland, Calif., in the deadliest day for U.S. law enforcement since Sept. 11, 2001. The officers were the first Pittsburgh city officers to die in the line of duty in 18 years.
Neighbors said the shooting began at about 7 a.m. and that two officers were shot almost immediately.
“When I looked down I saw two police officers laying in the street,” said Don Sand, who lives across the street and was awoken by the sound of gunfire.
A short time later, more officers, SWAT teams and other law enforcement arrived and a third officer was shot, Sand said.
“They couldn’t get the scene secure enough to get to them. They were just lying there bleeding,” Sand said. “By the time they secured the scene enough to get to them it was way too late.”
Gail Moschetti, who lives diagonally across the street from the Poplawski house, said she heard hundreds of shots as she and her husband took refuge in their basement. Tom Moffitt, 51, a city firefighter who lives two blocks away, said he came to the scene and heard “hundreds, just hundreds of shots.”
Police planned to release more details at a mid-afternoon news conference Saturday.