Image: Caskets of three slain Pittsburgh officers
Gene J. Puskar  /  AP
The caskets of the three Pittsburgh Police officers who were shot and killed when responding to a 911 call arrive at the City-County Building in downtown Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
updated 4/8/2009 6:56:31 PM ET 2009-04-08T22:56:31

Law enforcement officials from as far away as Georgia gathered Wednesday to pay tribute to three fellow officers killed in the line of duty over the weekend.

Allegheny County Police officers led three riderless horses to Pittsburgh's City-County Building, where mourners from the region and a host of police and corrections officials visited the bodies of Eric Kelly, Stephen Mayhle and Paul Sciullo II.

The officers were shot to death Saturday morning while responding to an argument between a mother and her 22-year-old son, who is jailed on homicide charges.

Jane Bean, a retired corrections officer, made the trip from the suburb of South Park to pay her respects to the fallen officers.

"You just admired and honor what they do," Bean said as she fought back tears. "It's time like this you realize how important they are."

Shot responding to 911 call
Police say Richard Poplawski shot the officers when they arrived at his mother's house Saturday morning after she called 911 to ask police to remove him.

When officers arrived, Margaret Poplawski opened the door for them. She later told police that she didn't know that her son was standing behind her with a gun.

Sciullo was shot in the home and Mayhle on the front stoop. Both men were dead within seconds. Kelly was shot as he arrived to provide backup, prompting a four-hour siege and gun battle with police, authorities said.

Another officer, Timothy McManaway, was shot in the hand and a fifth broke his leg on a fence.

Authorities said Poplawski was wearing a bulletproof vest and was armed with a variety of weapons, including an AK-47 assault rifle.

Poplawski sustained wounds to his legs and is being held under close observation at the Allegheny County Jail on criminal homicide, attempted homicide and other charges.

Friends have said Poplawksi was upset and angry about losing his job a few months ago, feared that President Barack Obama would take away his gun rights and believed Jews controlled the news media.

Internet rantings found on a white supremacist Web site indicate Poplawski was preoccupied with the idea that Obama was going to overturn the Second Amendment and that Jews were secretly running the country.

Josh Davis, a 27-year-old student from Pittsburgh, waited outside the building several hours before doors opened to the public. He shook hands with officers and thanked them for their service.

"They put their lives on the line," he said. "(They) go through hell for us."

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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