Cop Clings To Life His Twin Brother And Family In Bedside Vigil

Posted: June 28, 1991

They did everything together, the McMullin boys. They worked together, they ate together, they hung out together. And night after night, as police partners, they risked their lives together.

They were more than just brothers. They were identical twins. And best friends.

But in a split second early yesterday morning, their world changed. A gunman's bullet tore into Officer Donald McMullin's face next to his right eye and lodged in the back of his brain.

If he is lucky, he will be blind only in the one eye, doctors say.

If he is lucky, he will live.

This morning, McMullin, 23, was in critical condition at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He was placed on life support yesterday afternoon when his condition worsened, Police Commissioner Willie L. Williams said.

A priest, McMullin's brother Brian, the twin's parents, and a score of relatives, friends and fellow officers were keeping a bedside vigil, Williams said. Several relatives arrived at the hospital fingering religious medals and

rosaries, a hospital guard said. The family is Roman Catholic.

"They're upstairs right now, saying a prayer," Williams said after visiting McMullin at the hospital last night. "I'm going to get home right now and say a prayer that the officer comes through."

Police charged two men last night in the shooting: James Leath, 25, of 16th Street near Master; and Stanley Rivers, 21, of 48th Street near Pine.

Both were in satisfactory condition this morning at the Medical College of Pennsylvania, where they had been dropped off with gunshot wounds in the back soon after McMullin was shot.

Police concluded that another man, who arrived at Osteopathic Medical Center about the same time with a gunshot wound, was not involved in the incident.

A white Chevrolet believed to be the suspects' car was found - riddled with bullet holes and drenched in blood - a few blocks from the shooting scene on Washington Avenue near Alden Street, police said. No weapons or drugs were found in the car, but police did retrieve several .25-caliber cartridge casings.

Police are also looking for the occupants of at least two other cars believed to have been with the suspects as part of a "caravan" delivering drugs, police sources said.

Leath and Rivers were to be arraigned at bedside on two counts each of aggravated assault, simple assault, weapons offenses and recklessly endangering another person, police said. They are also charged with one count each of conspiracy. Police did not say which suspect they believe was the triggerman.

Leath has been free on bail pending trials in two cases - possession and sale of drugs, and a weapons charge - and both men have long criminal records involving drugs, weapons and assault charges, according to police sources.

The McMullins, assigned to the 18th Police District, 55th and Pine streets, were working their usual midnight-to-8 a.m. patrol shift when they spotted the white Chevy driving without headlights on Washington Avenue near 57th Street, police said.

About 2:15 a.m., the officers radioed in what they believed was a routine traffic stop, police said. They got out of their patrol wagon and walked toward the car - Donald on the driver's side, Brian on the passenger's side.

Suddenly, several shots rang out, police said. Donald fell into the street without firing his weapon. Brian emptied all 16 rounds from his 9mm pistol into the fleeing car.

Then he bent down to give his wounded brother mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Brian McMullin has barely left his brother's side since the shooting, said Capt. Edward J. D'Amato, the 18th District commander. But then, that's the way it's been all their lives, neighbors, relatives and fellow officers said.

"Two peas in a pod," said Joe Kilgore, 40, a neighbor of Brian's on 62nd Street near Paschall Avenue in Southwest Philadelphia. "You couldn't pull them apart. If you saw one, you saw the other."

"They're like two right arms," said Officer Joseph Mora, 35, of the 25th District, who trained with Brian at the Police Academy two years ago. ''They're closer than brothers. They're the same."

The brothers grew up on Claymont Street near Elmwood Avenue in Southwest Philadelphia, a quiet block of neat brick rowhouses. Donald still lives with his mother, Maryann, in a house with two American flags in the window and a yellow ribbon tied on the porch light.

As youngsters, they were paperboys, delivering The Inquirer every morning at 5 a.m., "come rain, snow, shine," said Sandra Tsaras, 34, a neighbor. ''Nothing stopped them."

"You couldn't believe how good these boys were," said Andrew Lesky, 62, a neighbor. "They were very, very polite. You just don't see kids like that."

The twins played in Little League together, attended West Catholic High School for Boys together, and spent a year together at La Salle University before joining the Coast Guard Reserve - together.

The brothers' father, Donald, 46, is a captain in the Fire Department, and the boys dreamed of being firemen when they grew up, said their great-aunt, Louise Guliano, 80. But since there were no jobs in the Fire Department when they left the Coast Guard, she said, they joined the Police Department.

At the 18th District, the McMullins were reserved and somewhat shy, respectful and clean-cut, their captain said. They didn't swear, smoke or drink, and rarely hung out with other officers.

They were the kind of men older officers wanted to hitch up with their daughters, said D'Amato and Sgt. Mark Pugliese, 44. They know: They've got daughters of their own they wanted the twins to meet.

As police officers, the McMullins were hard-working and efficient, said Pugliese, who was their supervisor for a while.

"They were a joy. Every time you gave them an assignment, they did it. They did everything well.

"The McMullins were very very careful," he added. "This shows you can be as careful as you can, go by the book 100 percent, and still get hurt out there."

They asked to work together as partners, D'Amato said.

"These were two good kids and two fine cops. I'd like to have a hundred more just like 'em," D'Amato said.

"I'm sorry," he added as his eyes filled with tears as he talked about them. "I've got a lot of cops out here, and sometimes you feel responsible for 'em."

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