Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Tony Norman ridicules statements made by friends of accused police killer Richard “Pop” Poplawski that he was “just another kid in the neighborhood.” Norman calls “the testimonials that made it to local and national television on Saturday morning during live coverage” of Poplawski’s standoff with police “particularly embarrassing.” Says Norman: “People who claimed to know the 22-year-old shooter trotted out the dumbest cliches possible as the cameras rolled. No one had a theory about what could make an apocalyptic-minded individual with lots of guns and ammo at his disposal ‘snap.’ “
“He wasn’t a racist. He was a cool person,” a 23-year-old black friend of Pop told a Post-Gazette reporter. “He thought he was losing some of his rights. He said he’d be ready if there’s ever an invasion of the United States and that he had stockpiled foods and guns.” Comments Norman: “I know we can set the bar for a ‘cool person’ a little too low around here, but describing a tightly wound gun nut who believes an invasion of the United States is imminent as just another kid from the neighborhood is ridiculous by any metric.” It turns out that Poplawski was a regular habitue of white racist Web sites where he regularly posted anti-black, anti-Semitic rants.