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Human Interest - Bensalem Township

DA Rules Steam Pub Shootings Justified

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The 21-year-old man who shot and killed two men who were attacking him in the parking lot of the Steam Pub in Upper Southampton Township was justified in using deadly force, District Attorney Matt Weintraub said, Thursday.

At an afternoon presser, Weintraub revealed the legal rational and “factual evidence” for his decision not to charge Liam Hughes, of Middletown.

Hughes and a friend were returning to Hughes’ car on the night of Oct. 7, 2022, after leaving the Steam Pub, 606 Second Street Pike, Southampton PA 18966, when a group of men gathered near his car confronted and attacked him, Weintraub explained.

Three men pummeled Hughes during the attack, punching and striking him in the face and head and knocking him to the ground where they continued the assault. Hughes attempted to get into his vehicle but was being actively pulled out by one of the attackers.

Hughes had to reach behind with his right arm while being attacked and was able to get his hand on his weapon that was between the driver’s seat and the center console. He warned the assailants that he had a weapon and told them to stop. The men continued the attack, and Hughes opened fire, killing two of his assailants and injuring a third man.

Just before the attack on Hughes begins in the Steam Pub Parking Lot
Credit: Bucks County DA’s office

Immediately after the shooting, Hughes called 911, telling dispatchers he shot at a group of men who attacked him in the parking lot of the Steam Pub. Bucks County 911 received numerous other calls reporting the shooting.

Upper Southampton Township Police Department and EMS arrived at the scene and found two deceased males in the Steam Pub parking lot. Those men were later identified as Steven Panebianco, 30, of Bensalem, and Raymond Farrell, 28, of Philadelphia. While on scene, police received information that a third man – Richard Bowman, 24, of Philadelphia – sustained a gunshot wound and was treated at a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

After calling 911, Hughes remained on the scene until police arrived and cooperated fully with the investigation, including giving a video and audio recorded interview, allowing police to review his cellphone, and consenting to gunshot residue testing, photographing, having his clothing collected, providing a blood sample, and releasing his medical records.

The medical records showed that Hughes’ injuries included acute post-traumatic headache, a concussion, left ear contusion, a split lip, bloody nose, and bruises and scrapes to his left inner ear, forehead, head, and scalp. Doctors found dried blood in his left ear canal upon examination. He also suffered blurry vision, sensitivity to light and nausea.

Detectives with the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office and the Upper Southampton Township Police Department conducted a comprehensive investigation that included processing the scene and recovering and accounting for all shell casings and rounds, interviewing with those involved and witnesses, reviewing surveillance footage from inside and outside the Steam Pub, examining cellphones, searching vehicles, and collecting and reviewing 911 calls.

Hughes Shoots the three men.
Credit: Bucks County DA’s office

Weintraub announced that the investigation concluded that the use of deadly force by Hughes was justified as the circumstances were such that he reasonably believed deadly force was necessary to protect himself against death or serious bodily injury and because the circumstances were such that he was unable to safely retreat. Further, there was a presumed reasonable belief of need for deadly force because he was forcefully being removed from his vehicle.

The investigation also found that Hughes, an Army reservist for the past 3 ½ years, held a valid concealed weapons permit and legally purchased the firearm himself. At 5-foot-6 and 140 pounds, Hughes was also considerably smaller than his assailants.

This morning, the District Attorney Weintraub met with Panebianco’s family to explain his decision. The District Attorney attempted to do the same with the Farrell family, but they declined to meet at this time.

During a news conference to announce the findings of the investigation, District Attorney Weintraub played surveillance footage that captured the assault and shooting, and the 911 call that Hughes placed after the shooting.

**Video and Audio provided the Bucks County District Attorney’s office** 

In the video, Panebianco, Farrell and a third man, Michael Michell, can be seen repeatedly punching Hughes. Panebianco throws the first punch that started the attack, and then also punches Hughes’ friend Luis Rodriguez five times in the head and face. Rodriguez fled to get help as the three men continued the attack.

Additionally, District Attorney Weintraub announced that Michell, 24, of Philadelphia, would be charged with simple assault, a misdemeanor of the second degree, for his role in the attack. Michell punched the victim at least four times in the head during the attack, the investigation found. Bowman was not charged. This case was investigated by Bucks County Detectives Phil Kulan and Tim Campbell and Upper Southampton Police Detective Jim Schirmer. Deputy District Attorney Sarah K. Heimbach is assigned to the investigation and prosecution.

 

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Human Interest - Bensalem Township

New LBTQ+ Advocacy Group Fairness Pennsylvania Launches

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Fairness Pennsylvania (FPA), the first full-time statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights program in several years kicked off on Monday, June 3 with Pennsylvania organizers, advocates, and legislators  at the state Capitol.

“We are ready to hit the ground running,” said Sarah Hammond, Fairness PA’s State Director, in a press release. “There are so many engaged activists and strong voices working right now in communities across the state. Our first priority is to identify ways that a new, statewide organization can assist these dedicated activists to move the needle here in Harrisburg and around the state.”

Hammond said. “…FPA is dedicated to promoting equality and fostering nondiscrimination principles in PA so that our LGBTQ+ community can be open, honest, and safe at home, at work, and in our communities across the state.”

In a statement, Governor Josh Shapiro said, “The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was founded on the ideals of tolerance and understanding and I’m proud to stand alongside Fairness PA as they work to promote those values and build a better, stronger Commonwealth for all.”

Credit: Submitted

“No matter what you look like, where you come from, who you love, or who you pray to, you deserve equal protection under the law in Pennsylvania….” said Shapiro. “It’s long past time we put partisanship aside and pass a nondiscrimination law that protects LGBTQ Pennsylvanians,” continued the press release.

Hammond said that an immediate priority for Fairness PA would be passage of the Fairness Act, which would ban discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations in the state, according to the press release. The Fairness Act passed in the state House in April 2023 but has yet to be considered in the state Senate. Shapiro earlier this year called on on the General Assembly to finally come together and pass the Fairness Act.

Fairness Pennsylvania can be found online at fairnesspenn.org or @FairnessPA on social media.

For more information, please visit Fairness PA or contact Pete Shelly at pshelly@clearpointpa.com.

 

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Cops, Courts & Fire -Bensalem Township

Bensalem Man Charged for Possessing Kiddie Porn

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A Bensalem man stands accused of uploading and saving pornographic images involving children to his Google account.

Michael Dunbar, 55, was arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Michael W. Gallagher Thursday morning on one felony count of child pornography and one count of criminal use of communication facility with his bail set at 10 percent of $300,000.00.

According to Bensalem Police,  on Thursday, April 25, 2024, a cybertip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) was received.  The tip referenced a particular Google account that had uploaded and saved numerous videos depicting child pornography, including prepubescent boys and girls engaging in sexual acts with each other. Detectives began an investigation and were able to determine that the owner/user of the Google account was Dunbar.

On Thursday, June 20, 2024, Bensalem Detectives served a search warrant on Dunbar’s residence.  The suspect was interviewed, and he allegedly admitted to intentionally uploading child pornography into his Google account after finding the videos on the Dark Web.

Bensalem authorities did not comment about the results of the  executed search warrant.

Dunbar was unable to post bail as of early Friday morning and was remanded to Bucks County Correctional Facility. He is currently scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing on July 2 and has no attorney of record presently, according to court records.

 

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Health - Bensalem Township

THE Giant Co. & Customers Raise More Than $400,000 For Healing Our Planet Initiatives

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Through its Healing Our Planet initiative, The GIANT Company today announced it raised $403,360 in partnership with its customers to support Planet Bee Foundation™ and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful™. During the month of May, customers at GIANT, MARTIN’S and GIANT Heirloom Market stores were invited to round up their grocery purchases to the nearest dollar to support each organization.

“Action inspires action and small changes such as tree plantings and pollinator awareness can make a big difference when it comes to helping our planet, so thank you to our customers who rounded up at the register to support these green initiatives,” said Courtney Hopcraft, manager of charitable giving and community relations, The GIANT Company. “Over the four years of our Healing the Planet campaign, more than $6 million has been raised to grow health and sustainability initiatives centric to creating healthier communities and a more sustainable future.”

Announced earlier this month, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful in partnership with The GIANT Company announced it will award Healing the Planet grants later this summer to local community organizations for tree plantings across Pennsylvania. Additional funding from The GIANT Company will support Pick Up Pennsylvania and local clean up, recycling and greening events.

“Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful is grateful to The GIANT Company for their support of native tree planting in their operating areas in Pennsylvania. Funding will also support our Pick Up Pennsylvania program, so we can continue to meet the needs of families, friends, neighbors, civic groups, nonprofits and municipalities working towards a clean and beautiful Pennsylvania,” said Shannon Reiter, president, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful. “Cleaning and beautifying communities tends to reduce littering and other illegal behaviors, making it a better place for all residents and providing a foundation for community and economic development.”

Credit: Submitted

Planet Bee Foundation drives awareness for pollinators and the importance of bees as a pathway to STEM, conservation, and innovations in agriculture. Funding raised by The GIANT Company will support local beekeepers, research programs, and school and community programs.

“On behalf of Planet Bee Foundation, I wish to extend our deepest gratitude to The GIANT Company for their donation, which has educated and impacted over 109,000 youth. Their generosity has sponsored STEM and Agriculture Education programs in schools, provided supplies to teachers, offered grants to local beekeepers, provided education at public events, and maintained beehives in community gardens, exemplifying their commitment to local communities,” said Debra Tomaszewski, founder and executive director, Planet Bee Foundation. “We are humbled and inspired by The GIANT Company’s commitment to sustainability, the health of our planet, and the well-being of the families they serve.”

For more information on The GIANT Company’s Healing Our Planet initiative, click here please.

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