By Amanda Klein | September 19, 2018
A man facing a court hearing for allegedly strangling his wife with a belt, opened fire Wednesday in a Fayette County magistrate’s office, injuring four people before police shot and killed him.
While authorities have not identified the man, a check of online court records identifies him as 61-year-old Patrick Shaun Dowdell.
Dowdell was scheduled to appear before District Judge Dan Shimshock for a preliminary hearing at 1 p.m. Wednesday, for allegedly assaulting and strangling his wife on Aug. 28.
Police say, Dowdell entered the lobby of the Masontown Municipal Building around 2 p.m. and started shooting. Masontown and German Township police officers immediately entered the lobby and started firing back. An officer with the German Township Police shot and fatally wounded the Dowdell.
While Police say they are not sure what motivated Dowdell to start shooting, they did say he was not targeting Shimshock or court employees.
Four people were shot and transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Among them is Masontown Police Sgt. R. Scott Miller, two men and a woman. Witnesses say the woman was Dowdell’s intended target, and she suffered a gunshot wound to her arm.
One witness said Dowdell entered a courtroom and pointed a gun at someone, however, Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Steve Dowlin said Dowdell stayed in the main area of the municipal building and never entered a courtroom.
Dowdell briefly exchanged gunfire with police in the lobby and after leaving the lobby, was met by at least one additional officer outside, who fired several shots at Dowdell, killing him.
Officials have not identified the German Township police officer who fired the fatal shot.
One witness said she heard 12 shots fired, although this has not been confirmed by police.
Area schools were placed on lockdown immediately following the shooting as a precaution. Authorities say there was never a danger to students or staff.
Amanda Klein can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org