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Monessen man died from bullet to the neck, coroner says

| Thursday, May 29, 2014, 5:06 p.m.

A man who was killed in Monessen died from a single gunshot wound in the neck, an autopsy on Thursday discovered.

Westmoreland County Deputy Coroner Joshua Zappone said Dennis R. Fitzwater, 31, suffered blood loss that caused his death.

Two masked men bound Fitzwater's wrists with tape before shooting him about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday night in a home in the 500 block of Chestnut Street, according to Monessen police and Westmoreland County detectives.

No arrests have been made.

The coroner's office ruled the death a homicide. Toxicology reports on Fitzwater, 31, will take several weeks to complete.

Two children, ages 2 and 5, apparently slept through the attack, when the men entered the home and shot Fitzwater in a second-floor bedroom, police said.

Fitzwater apparently managed to get downstairs to the kitchen and collapsed on the floor, his wrists bound with tape, according to city police Chief John Mandarino.

He was pronounced dead at 4:10 a.m. on Wednesday by Zappone and Deputy Coroner Doug Lewis.

Police are looking for two black men, one about 6 feet 3 inches tall, and the other about 5 feet 10 inches tall. Both wore black hooded sweatshirts and covered their faces with bandanas.

Mandarino said a man and a woman who were in the home during the shooting were questioned on Wednesday morning at the city police station.

The gunmen allegedly threatened the male resident before shooting Fitzwater.

On Wednesday, investigators recovered a Taurus .38-caliber special revolver, which had been reported stolen in Donora, concealed within a tire outside the Chestnut Street home, according to a search warrant affidavit.

Ballistic tests are being conducted to determine whether the firearm was used to kill Fitzwater.

Fitzwater was released on Thursday from the county jail, where he had been held since May 17 on charges of drug possession and drug paraphernalia charges. He posted $10,000 bond through a bail bondsman.

He was awaiting a preliminary hearing before West Newton District Judge Charles Christner on theft charges filed in 2013 for $9,000 worth of metal rims in North Belle Vernon. In 2008, Fitzwater was sentenced to two years of intermediate punishment after a conviction for selling marijuana.

Parzynski Funeral Home in North Belle Vernon is handling funeral arrangements.

Paul Peirce is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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