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More law enforcement officers were killed in Saturday’s shooting rampage in Pennsylvania than in any other single violent incident perpetrated by a domestic political extremist since the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
Three Pittsburgh police officers were fatally shot when they responded to a domestic dispute at the home of the alleged killer, Richard Poplawski, who had posted numerous racist and anti-Semitic messages on the white supremacist website Stormfront and elsewhere. A fourth was wounded in the hand. The last time more than two police officers were murdered by a far-right extremist was in Oklahoma City, when five officers died in the attack that killed a total of 168 people, according to Mark Pitcavage, director of investigative research for the Anti-Defamation League.
In the 14 years since that bombing — which remains the worst act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history — 25 law enforcement officers have lost their lives to white supremacist violence. “We all know that white supremacists lash out violently against people of other races and religions and sexual orientations,” Pitcavage told Hatewatch. “We often forget that they also strike out against the people trying to protect us all. Sometimes spontaneously, sometimes planned, they regularly target law enforcement officers across the country.”
The officers who died in Pittsburgh were Paul Sciullo III, 37, Stephen Mayhle, 29, and Eric Kelly, 41. Sciullo and Mayhle were ambushed when they arrived at the house where Poplawski lived with his mother. Kelly was shot when he responded to help.
The Intelligence Report profiled the 15 officers killed by extremists between 1997 and 2004. With help from Pitcavage, Hatewatch compiled a list, presented here in reverse chronological order, of the seven law enforcement officers who died between 2005 and the tragedy in Pittsburgh:
• Hillsborough County, Fla., Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Harrison, 55, on Aug. 15, 2007, by a white supremacist.
• Bastrop, La., Police Detective Sgt. John Smith, 40, on Aug. 10, 2007, by a member of the racist prison gang Aryan Circle.
• Bastrop, La., Police Detective Sgt. Charles “Chuck” Wilson, 34, on Aug. 10, 2007, by a member of the racist prison gang Aryan Circle.
• Utah Department of Corrections Officer Stephen Anderson, 60, on June 25, 2007, by a Utah State Prison inmate with ties to the Aryan Brotherhood and other white supremacist prison gangs.
• Moscow, Idaho, Police Officer Lee Newbill, 48, on May 19, 2007, by a member of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations.
• Gassville, Ark., Police Officer James W. Sell, 63, on Feb. 4, 2006, by a neo-Nazi who also attacked two people at a gay bar.
• Fort Worth, Texas, Police Officer Henry “Hank” Nava Jr., 39, on Dec. 1, 2005, after being shot by a member of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang.