‘He’s very emotionally unstable,’ victim in Bellevue shooting feared alleged shooter, ex-boyfriend

PITTSBURGH — In Rachel “Rae” Dowden’s own handwriting, she wrote, “I’m afraid he will find me, and cause harm physically, or kill me and my mother. He’s very emotionally unstable.”

She wrote those statements in a protection from abuse petition that was filed back in 2020.

Rachel was referring to her ex-boyfriend, DeAngelo Zieglar, who police say shot her after she left work Wednesday evening.

Before she was killed, police were already searching for Zieglar for a previous violation of the PFA.

Nicole Molinaro, the president and CEO of the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh, told Channel 11 that while PFA’s are helpful and serve a purpose, they’re not perfect.

“What a protection of abuse order cannot do is keep somebody physically safe in the moment when an abuser is trying to kill them,” Molinaro said.

Channel 11′s Gabriella DeLuca spent the afternoon at the City County building going through dozens of documents. The paperwork showed the timeline from when Rachel first requested the PFA, then to the several times DeAngelo is accused of violating it.

Back in 2020, Rachel said she experienced violence at the hands of Zieglar, and wrote that he had held knives to her neck and stomach while she was pregnant.

Two years later, despite all of the effort she put into protecting herself, she lost her life.

“It takes a community, the systems working together to protect the most marginalized and most at risk. It’s an important, absolutely critical fight to continue,” Molinaro said.

Zieglar is charged with homicide and is being held at the county jail. His bail is denied because he is a “danger to the community.”