McKees Rocks man held for trial in fatal East Allegheny bar shooting

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A McKees Rocks man told Pittsburgh police he killed a man inside an East Allegheny bar in October after the man pulled a knife on him twice, according to court testimony provided this morning.

Wesley Richards, 35, was ordered to stand trial this morning on charges of homicide, two gun violations and tampering with evidence after a preliminary hearing before District Judge Eugene Ricciardi. Richards was charged with killing Donald Lowry, a 46-year-old father of five, Oct. 18 inside JR's Bar on East Ohio Street.

Pittsburgh homicide unit Detective Clifton Pugh testified this morning that he interviewed Richards in December inside a jail in Detroit, where U.S. marshals arrested him. During that interview, Richards "admitted to the shooting" and said "Mr. Lowry had brandished a knife and threatened him with said knife" at least twice, Detective Pugh said.

Jay Flowers, who worked as a disc jockey inside the bar on the night of the shooting, testified that he saw Richards walk to the kitchen between 8:30 and 9 p.m. and ask for food.

When closing time approached, Mr. Flowers went to get his paycheck and saw Richards, Mr. Lowry and another man he did not recognize standing together and said Mr. Lowry bought drinks for the three.

Richards walked away and returned and "it seemed like his expression had changed," Mr. Flowers said.

Mr. Flowers testified that he saw Richards bend down, pull out a silver gun and fire one shot at Mr. Lowry. Mr. Lowry ducked, tried to cut through the crowd and then fell on the floor, Mr. Flowers said.

Mr. Flowers said Richards walked toward Mr. Lowry and fired three shots -- "pow, pow -- three times."

A doorman attempted to stop Richards but another man with Richards hit the doorman with a bottle, Mr. Flowers said. Both ran out the door.

Mr. Flowers said he did not see any signs of tension between Richards and Mr. Lowry before the shooting but also acknowledged that for much of the night he was focused on his work.

Prosecutors today added one county of tampering with evidence and Detective Pugh testified that Richards told them he did not know where they could find the gun.

They attempted to add another count of aggravated assault, saying that Richards shot another man in the buttocks, but Judge Ricciardi dismissed that charge after public defender Lisa Phillips argued that the victim in that case did not testify in court and prosecutors did not provide evidence that Richards was responsible for that shot.

Richards, court records show, has been arrested numerous times in Allegheny County -- pleading guilty to drug charges at least five times in various cases dating as far back as 1997. He has also pleaded guilty to fraud and forgery.

Pittsburgh police continue to search for a second man in connection with the shooting of Mr. Lowry.

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