When police found 78-year-old Richard Liposchok and his mentally disabled son, Mickey, 52, dead of apparent gunshot wounds inside their Port Vue home Tuesday morning, the news was a jolt.
"I got all teary-eyed and upset. It bothered me," said Marshall Black, a friend and Port Vue Borough Council member who knew the elder Mr. Liposchok through the borough's Vigilant Hose Company No. 1, where both men were longtime volunteers. "I know it bothers everybody in the fire company."
It was not, however, wholly unexpected.
"A lot of people assumed that something was going to take place here because of his son," Mr. Black said.
Police would not say Tuesday whether Mr. Liposchok killed his son before taking his own life, though the involvement of third person is not being contemplated.
Mickey Liposchok's body was found on the living-room floor in the house in the 1900 block of New York Avenue after a housekeeper couldn't get anyone to answer the door or reach them by phone. The woman summoned a neighbor, Frank Cortazzo, who looked through a window, spotted the body lying in a pool of blood and called police.
Richard Liposchok, known to his friends as "Lippy," was found in the bedroom with a rifle, borough police Chief Bryan R. Myers said.
Both men suffered at least one gunshot wound, he said. The Allegheny County medical examiner's office expects to release autopsy results today. Allegheny County police are in charge of the investigation and did not return calls Tuesday seeking additional information.
However, Mr. Black and Port Vue Mayor Brien A. Hranics, who also knew the elder Mr. Liposchok and went to school with his son, said the death of his wife, Gail, last year, failing health and assuming the role of sole caregiver for his son were taking a toll. Chief Myers, also a family friend, said Mr. Liposchok had been depressed since his wife's death in November 2012.
"It's an act of love is what it was," Mr. Hranics said. "It was definitely an act of love."
Mr. Black said Mr. Liposchok, a retired steel worker, worried about what would happen to his son when he died and was not the type to seek help for his own problems.
"When she passed, it was a lot on Rich. His health was deteriorating, it was getting bad. ... He was a very big guy. He whittled down to nothing," Mr. Black said. "He's a strong-minded person. He's always done for himself."
Mr. Cortazzo has lived across the street from the family for nine years and helped officers break into the Liposchok home Tuesday morning.
Gail Liposchok "was the one that took care of everybody," he said, though both she and her husband cared for their son.
"You'd always see the father and the son riding together to the store," Mr. Cortazzo said.
Reached by phone, Bruce Michnowicz, Richard Liposchok's nephew, would not speak with a reporter Tuesday evening. A relative of Mrs. Liposchok who asked not to be named also declined an interview.
"It's very sad," she said.
Tuesday's grim discovery was the second time this month that police were called to the home.
According to 911 records, the elder Mr. Liposchok had left his vehicle running in the garage for an unknown amount of time Dec. 5 and officers responded for possible carbon-monoxide poisoning.
The incident was reported to have been accidental, those records show. Mr. Cortazzo said his family helped rid the home of fumes by lending a box fan.
"As far as him intentionally doing that on [Dec. 5], I personally would have probably said, 'No,' " Chief Myers said. "But, then again, who knows what's in people's minds?"
Mayor Hranics said Gail Liposchok was Mickey's primary caregiver, and she and her husband worked hard to give their son as normal an upbringing as possible.
"That boy was their life," he said.
The nature of Mickey Liposchok's disability wasn't entirely clear, but Chief Myers said he was born with the condition. Several people who knew the family said he was unable to care for himself.
After his wife's death, Richard Liposchok was seen around town less. The mayor wasn't sure if he was having trouble caring for his son, but said the family was private.
Mr. Black said Mickey was usually kept upstairs when he went to visit the home.
A longtime member of Vigilant Hose Company No. 1 who held various positions, including president and recording secretary, Richard Liposchok compiled the company's history through meeting minutes, newspaper clippings and photographs and was known as the town's historian.
"He's going to be missed. He was a very good guy. He was always fun to get in a conversation. He was up on everything. He was well liked," Mr. Black said.
Molly Born: email@example.com, 412-263-1944 or on Twitter @borntolede. Robert Zullo: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-3909. Moriah Balingit contributed. First Published December 17, 2013 2:41 PM