911 dispatcher error cited in slayings

April 7, 2009 at 5:09 PM

PITTSBURGH, April 7 (UPI) -- The emergency dispatcher who sent two Pittsburgh police officers to a fatal call didn't relay information that a man at the address was armed, officials said.

Officers Paul Sciullo and Stephen Mayhle were slain last weekend in an alleged ambush by Richard Poplawski, 22, after Poplawski's mother called 911 about her son. She told a call-taker he had guns, but the dispatcher didn't relay that information to the officers, who were caught unaware when Poplawski allegedly stepped out from a room and began shooting at them, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Tuesday.

Sciullo and Mayhle were slain immediately and another officer, Eric Kelly, was shot to death during a standoff and shootout that followed. Poplawski, who was injured, has been charged with homicide and other counts.

"It was a terrible omission," Allegheny County Chief of Emergency Services Bob Full told the Tribune-Review. "It should have been added to the call. The dispatch should have gone out as a domestic between mother and son and there are guns in the house."

Full would not identify the 911 call-taker other than to say she has been on the job for less than a year, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

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