Friends described a Richard Poplawski far different from the 22-year-old man accused of gunning down three police officers today -- a partier sometimes, a guy in search of an understanding of politics, even a walking comedian.
He was also convinced that the government wanted to take away his guns and his freedom.
"I've known this kid my entire life and he was a good kid. He never had bad intentions. He never spoke about harming anybody," said Edward Perkovic, a lifelong friend who had known Mr. Poplawski since the two paired up at a daycare.
Mr. Poplawski attended Immaculate Conception elementary school and moved on to North Catholic High School. A spokesman for the high school today said that he was expelled, but declined to state a reason.
Mr. Perkovic said his friend stopped attending classes so he could take get his General Educational Development certificate then join the Marine Corps.
Records indicate that Mr. Poplawski was dishonorably discharged from the corps during basic training. Friends said he wanted out so he could rejoin his girlfriend.
When that relationship failed, Mr. Poplawski moved for two years to Florida where he worked as a glazier, helping to asemble and replace windows. He returned here in 2006 or 2007.
Mr. Poplawski collaborated with Mr. Perkovic on an Internet show that featured clips --- sometimes from local news broadcasts, other times video from around the town --- where they discussed politics.
Mr. Poplawski lived with his mother and grandmother in Stanton Heights. Friends said his parents had split years ago and that his father "was totally out of the picture."
Dennis B. Roddy can be reached at DRoddy@post-gazette.com . E-mail story information, your updates to the newsroom