Richard Poplawski Receives Death Sentence for Killing Three Officers

  • June 29, 2011

Richard Poplawski, a white supremacist and anti-government extremist who believed in New World Order conspiracy theories, was sentenced to death on June 28 after being found guilty of killing three Pittsburgh police officers in April 2009. The Dauphin County, Pennsylvania jury decided that Poplawski should die by lethal injection for his ambush of the three officers who had been summoned to Poplawski's home by his mother during a domestic dispute.

Poplawski, heavily armed with a shotgun, revolver, assault rifle, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and a bullet-proof vest, continued to shoot at other officers and a SWAT team that arrived on the scene. He eventually surrendered to the authorities after being wounded.

In the months before the shootout, Poplawski had exhibited growing anger against racial minorities, Jews, the government and the police.  He railed against them via Stormfront, a popular white supremacist Internet forum, and other sites.  Poplawski also expressed his belief in anti-government conspiracy theories, including the theory that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was building concentration camps to imprison political dissidents.

The Anti-Defamation League provided the District Attorney's office prosecuting the Poplawski case with a 41-page report of some of the most relevant postings detailing Poplawski's white supremacist and anti-government beliefs.

Poplawski's last collection of posts on Stormfront, from November 2008 through March 2009, were disturbing, as they indicated an increasing desire to be confrontational.  Rather than "retreat peaceably into the hills," Poplawski urged his fellow white supremacists in November 2008 to achieve "ultimate victory for our people" by "taking back our nation."  Stating that he believed they were running out of time, he noted that "a revolutionary is always regarded as a nutcase at first, their ideas dismissed as fantasy."  In another posting that month, he said that he would probably be "ramping up the activism" in the near future.

By March 2009, Poplawski apparently felt himself at a crossroads of sorts.  In his longest and most revealing post on Stormfront, Poplawski confirmed his belief that Jews controlled the U.S. government and his conviction that some sort of collapse of the "economic and social order" of the United States was inevitable, "poisoned by design by the moral decadence that is a direct byproduct of [Jewish control]."   

One month later, Poplawski, armed and ready, ambushed the officers who arrived at his home to handle what they thought was a domestic dispute. All three officers were gunned down within minutes.