PFA Order Reveals Wife Wanted Divorce, Accused Shooter Of Strangling Her With Belt

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MASONTOWN, Pa. (KDKA) — State police are confirming that 61-year-old Patrick Dowdell was the man who shot four people at the Magistrate Court in Masontown, Pa., on Wednesday.

Investigators also confirm Dowdell’s wife, Crystal, was the person he was after.

Patrick was set to have a preliminary hearing on domestic violence charges.

Legal editor Julie Grant obtained a copy of the protection from abuse order she had against him.

The PFA was made by agreement between Patrick and Crystal Dowdell. There was no hearing before a judge because both sides were in agreement. Additionally, as part of the agreement, Patrick Dowdell was not made to give up any firearms.

Patrick was not allowed to have a gun under federal law, however, because of the court order.

Patrick and Crystal Dowdell (Image Provided)

On Wednesday, terror and chaos broke out at the Magisterial District Court in Masontown.

“A lady came in and said there’s a shooting. These two police officers didn’t ask a question, just took right off. I mean jumped over that wall over there,” said David Howard, owner of Howard’s Market.

“I seen the lady wearing a pink shirt, she was blonde, running across the road. And then we heard pow pow. We thought it was just a car back-firing or something,” said Misty Fowler, who witnessed some of the incident.

Patrick Dowdell was shooting out the front door and then continued shooting inside.

“And then two minutes later we heard it five more times or more than that. We all had started running and run for cover,” Fowler said.

KDKA’s Kym Gable Reports:



The criminal allegations that had Patrick scheduled for a preliminary hearing were also the basis for a civil protection from abuse order.

In her PFA petition, Crystal Dowdell said she told Patrick she wanted a divorce on Aug. 24, 2018. He then allegedly locked the door and twisted her arm until she dropped her phone. Crystal said he told her she would not be able to call 911, and he grabbed her tightly with a gun in his hand and told her there would be no divorce.

The next day, he allegedly accused her of ignoring his calls and blocking his number. Crystal says he took off his belt, wrapped it around her neck, pushed her down on the bed and pulled the belt so tightly that she could not breathe. He allegedly again said there would be no divorce and that he would take out whomever he needed to take out.

Crystal said she kneed him to get him to let up. She then escaped and called police.

An emergency PFA was granted on Aug. 25, and the final PFA was granted on Sept. 10.

Nine days had passed since the PFA was put into place, and Sept. 19 was also the second court listing for Patrick’s preliminary hearing.

It raises the question of whether something else had happened that fueled the violence seen in Wednesday’s shooting.