Donegal tavern shooting victim relieved alleged attacker off street
After Rhonda Neiderhiser's assailant accepted a plea bargain on June 5 for a 2011 shooting outside a Donegal tavern, Neiderhiser says she warned the Westmoreland District Attorney's office it would deal with the shooter again one day.
“But I really didn't think it would be this quick. I am glad Matthew Lowe's now off the streets so he can't shoot anybody else,” Neiderhiser said Friday, regarding the arrest this week of Matthew T. Lowe, 34, of Indian Head, Fayette County.
Lowe pleaded guilty in Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court on June 5 to two counts of aggravated assault for shooting Neiderhiser and her husband, Todd, both of Mt. Pleasant, outside of the Tall Cedars Lounge.
He had been facing a potential 10 to 20 years in prison if convicted of the original charge of attempted homicide.
After pleading guilty in the plea bargain, Lowe had asked Westmoreland County Judge Debra A. Pezze for a brief delay — until July 8 — in reporting to prison in order to complete some personal matters before serving an anticipated 9 months of a 23-month prison sentence. Pezze granted the request.
Just a week later, Mt. Pleasant police arrested Lowe about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday with a .38-caliber handgun loaded with hollow-point bullets, additional ammunition, four knives, illegal prescription pills and miscellaneous drug paraphernalia. He is being held in the county jail after failing to post $50,000 bond.
Lowe now faces a mandatory minimum sentence of at least five years in prison on the charge of a convicted felon possessing a loaded firearm.
Neiderhiser admitted feeling disappointed at Lowe's plea bargain agreement, “but that's the way our legal system works.”
“But I told (the prosecutor's office) that they'd see him again. I felt he'd probably shoot someone else someday,” Neiderhiser said.
“Thank goodness that policeman (Mt. Pleasant Assistant Police Chief Dan Zilli) just happened to go by there Wednesday and see Lowe, or he probably would have shot someone else,” Neiderhiser said.
Neiderhiser said she was frustrated about media reports that the 2011 shooting may have stemmed from an argument between Lowe and the Neiderhisers over Lowe's dog.
“That's simply not true. The Tall Cedars is really a neighborhood restaurant where most everyone knows everybody and nothing like that ever goes on there,” she said.
“We came outside around closing, and I think we startled him. It didn't come out because there was no trial, but (Lowe) was already getting out of his car and had a ski mask on ... now what do you think somebody carrying a firearm with a ski mask over his face when a bar is closing is doing?,” she asked.
State police at Greensburg 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 then 20-year-old daughter, Heidi, as they tried to flee. The Neiderhisers were not armed.
“I was worried he would shoot Heidi, too,” she said.
“State police also found a loaded assault rifle in Lowe's trunk afterward,” she added.
Neiderhiser's husband, Todd, was wounded twice in his arm, and Rhonda was struck in the leg.
“We're both still hurting. I still can't stretch my leg the whole way out, and I'll probably have to be in a wheelchair when I get older,” she said.
According to court records, Lowe maintained he shot at the Neiderheisers in self-defense during an argument with them.
Earlier this year, the Neiderheisers filed a civil lawsuit against Lowe seeking an unspecified amount in damages. That lawsuit is pending.
Lowe's attorney, Richard Galloway of Greensburg, said he did not know enough about Wednesday's arrest of Lowe at this point to comment.
Norvelt District Judge Roger Eckels ordered Lowe to the county jail 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. Contact him at email@example.com
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Hero Franklin Regional security guard out of work
- Man who fired shots in Monessen bar sentenced
- Quarantine on dogs relocated from Fayette shelter likely to be lifted soon
- From heifers to science projects, Westmoreland Fair judges enjoy their task
- Salem teen surprised with Westmoreland Fair Queen win
- 9 displaced by fire in Grapeville
- Ex-worker admits to taking money from Penn Township Sewage Authority
- Hours to be reduced at Ruffsdale post office
- Audit: Westmoreland records were at risk in transfer to computer system
- Former Jeannette man sentenced for claw hammer attack
- Man admits preying on Lower Burrell neighbor, taking more than $100K in money, goods