Suspect pleads guilty to assault in Woodlands shooting case

Jan. 22—A Lockport man is facing up to 25 years in prison following his guilty plea in a Feb. 5 shooting case in Woodlands Mobile Home Park.

Thomas L. McDowell, 20, pleaded guilty to a charge of assault in front of Niagara County Court Judge Caroline Wojtaszek on Monday. In entering the plea, McDowell faces between five and 25 years in state prison and two to five years of supervision after release.

McDowell was initially charged with attempted murder, criminal possession of a weapon, burglary and assault.

Niagara County District Attorney Brian Seaman said the assault charge to which McDowell pleaded guilty carries the same penalty as an attempted murder charge.

"This allows the judge to fashion an appropriate sentence for this very violent conduct," he said.

McDowell was arrested shortly after the shooting when staff at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center alerted police he was being treated for a stab wound. Following treatment at Erie County Medical Center, he was taken into custody.

His attorney, Robert Fogg, said McDowell was stabbed in the back by a female, who was not identified, during the same altercation in which he shot the 38-year-old victim but the the involved parties differ on whether McDowell shot before or after he was stabbed. Police said McDowell's victim was shot twice in a "non-lethal" area and was treated for the wound.

Sentencing is scheduled for April 8.