PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — On the day after a guilty verdict was handed down in the murder trial of Richard Poplawski, a burning blue candle sits near the statue of St. Michael the Archangel.
It’s a memorial to Officers Paul Sciullo II, Eric Kelly and Stephen Mayhle at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Bloomfield. Officer Sciullo was a member of the parish.
“He was a great guy. He quit his job to be a policeman and help the community, that’s the kind of young man he was,” said Bob Waruszkewski, of Bloomfield.
On Saturday, a jury of seven men and five women found Poplawski guilty on all counts, including first-degree murder, in the 2009 shooting deaths of the three officers.
Waruszkewski is one of many Bloomfield residents who believes that the guilty verdict was appropriate.
“You kill policemen, not only did he kill one, he killed three, and he wanted to kill more,” Waruszkewski said.
“I have no problem with the death penalty in this case,” added Paul Inzinga, a parish member.
Vince Sal Pietro, another member of the church, thinks Poplawski should get life a life sentence.
“To kill another person, that’s hard to do,” he said.
But others have different reasons for wanting the death penalty.
“We should not support him in jail the rest his life. We are taxpayers. He killed three of our officers,” said Jean Mazotti, a parish member.
Meanwhile, over in Stanton Heights, local people spending the day at the ball field behind Sunnyside Elementary School were also remembering the officers.
The April 2009 shooting happened at a home on Fairfield Street in Stanton Heights and following the first anniversary of the shooting, the field was dedicated to Officer Kelly.
“We have picnics up here, we play softball, so it’s a good testament to him and his dedication to the community,” said local resident Richard Burke.
People who use the field say they want to make sure their children remember Officer Kelly and his ultimate sacrifice.
The penalty phase of the Poplawski trial begins Monday morning. The jury will decide if he should receive the death penalty or life in prison.