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Mt. Pleasant family sues suspect in Donegal shootings

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

A Mt. Pleasant Township family is suing a Fayette County man who shot at them in the parking lot of a Donegal restaurant three years ago.

Husband and wife Todd and Rhonda Neiderhiser each sustained broken bones and other injuries as a result of Matthew Thomas Lowe, 33, allegedly pulling a gun and firing on them and their daughter, Heidi, according to a civil lawsuit filed this month in the Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas.

The Neiderhiser family is seeking unspecified punitive damages and compensation.

Lowe, of Indian Creek Valley Road, Indian Head, is facing attempted homicide charges. Also listed as defendants in the civil lawsuit are Lowe's parents, C. Ricky Lowe and Geraldine Lowe, of the same address. Geraldine Lowe declined to comment.

Lowe's criminal defense attorney, Richard Galloway, was not available.

According to testimony at Matthew Lowe's preliminary hearing and the civil lawsuit, Heidi Neiderhiser mistakenly thought she recognized Lowe, who was sitting in a vehicle in the parking lot of Tall Cedars Restaurant about midnight on March 5, 2011.

Todd Neiderhiser apologized for opening Lowe's passenger-side door. When Neiderhiser and his daughter turned to leave, Lowe allegedly got out of his vehicle and pulled out a gun.

Lowe is accused of firing into the Neiderhisers' vehicle while they attempted to flee. The suit alleges that Lowe was inebriated and was negligent in handling the firearm.

Lowe acted “with reckless disregard and extreme indifference to the value of human life ... by becoming inebriated and/or intoxicated to the point that he discharged his handgun in the general direction and into the plaintiffs' vehicle,” according to the suit.

Lowe told police that his dog escaped from his car when Todd Neiderhiser opened the door.

Todd and Rhonda Neiderhiser were flown by medical helicopter to a Pittsburgh hospital, where both underwent surgery. Todd Neiderhiser sustained a broken arm and Rhonda Neiderhiser had a fractured leg and a right knee injury, according to the suit.

Heidi Neiderhiser was not injured but has undergone counseling for “mental, psychological and emotional injuries,” the suit states.

C. Ricky Lowe and Geraldine Lowe are accused in the suit of permitting Matthew Lowe to have “unfettered access to various weapons” they owned or possessed, including the handgun allegedly used in the shooting.

Lowe is charged with three counts of attempted homicide, aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. He remains free on $250,000 bail. An April trial is scheduled.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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