Shooter in 2011 incident arrested again on weapons, drug charges
A Fayette County man who pleaded with a Westmoreland County judge last week for a brief delay in starting his prison sentence now faces a minimum of five more years behind bars over his arrest for illegally possessing a firearm.
Matthew T. Lowe, 34, of Indian Head, was to report to prison on July 8 to begin serving at least nine months of a 23-month term for shooting at a couple outside a Donegal Borough restaurant two years ago.
Lowe pleaded guilty on June 5 to two counts of aggravated assault in connection with the March 5, 2011, shooting during an argument over a dog outside the Tall Cedars Lounge. Lowe was charged with attempted homicide but agreed to plead guilty to the reduced charges in a plea deal.
State police said Lowe fired as many as 18 shots from two guns at a car occupied by Todd Neiderheiser of Mt. Pleasant, his wife, Rhonda, and their adult daughter.
Todd Neiderheiser was wounded in the arm, and his wife was hit once in the leg.
On Wednesday, Lowe was arrested in Mt. Pleasant by Dan Zilli, assistant borough police chief, on multiple criminal charges, including a convicted felon illegally possessing a firearm, which carries a minimum five-year sentence upon conviction; carrying a loaded firearm; possession of drug paraphernalia; and illegal possession of a controlled substance.
Zilli was on routine patrol near Kraisinger's Market about 10:24 p.m. Wednesday when he noticed a man standing next to his car urinating in a parking lot, he reported in an affidavit of probable cause filed before Norvelt District Judge Roger Eckels.
Zilli said he approached, and Lowe identified himself and said he was waiting for a friend to arrive.
When he asked Lowe whether he has ever been arrested, Lowe said he had just pleaded guilty in an attempted homicide case for shooting someone near Donegal and was set to begin serving a nine-month sentence, Zilli said.
Zilli saw through the open car door that Lowe had a black knife resting on the console.
The officer said he ordered Lowe to sit on the back bumper of the car while he searched for more weapons.
Zilli said he discovered a .38-caliber handgun loaded with five hollow-point bullets inside an unlocked console and confiscated three hypodermic needles, a metal spoon with burn marks on the bottom, a plastic bag containing five rounds of ammunition, three more knives and several Xanax pills in an unmarked bottle that were not prescribed to Lowe.
During his sentencing on June 5, Lowe asked Judge Debra Pezze to allow him a short time to report to prison to get his personal affairs in order. Pezze granted the request.
According to court records, Lowe maintained he shot at the Neiderheisers in self-defense.
He told police that while he was parked in front of the restaurant around midnight, Todd Neiderheiser opened his car door, allowing his dog to run free. As the men fought, Neiderheiser's vehicle drove into Lowe's, he told police.
Earlier this year, the Neiderheisers filed a lawsuit against Lowe seeking an unspecified amount in damages. That lawsuit is pending.
Lowe's attorney, Richard Galloway of Greensburg, could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Eckels ordered Lowe to the county prison after he failed to post $50,000 bond. A preliminary hearing is tentatively scheduled on June 20 before Eckels.
Paul Peirce is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or firstname.lastname@example.org.