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October 28, 2022

Man who fatally shot 2 attackers outside Bucks County bar will not face criminal charges

Liam Hughes, 21, acted in self defense when he opened fire in the pub's parking lot earlier this month, District Attorney Matthew Weintraub says

Investigations Shootings
Steam Pub shooting Street View/Google Maps

Liam Hughes, 21, will not face criminal charges for fatally shooting two people who attacked him and wounding another man outside of Steam in Southampton, Bucks County. District Attorney Matthew Weintraub says Hughes acted in self defense.

The 21-year-old man who fatally shot two men who jumped him and wounded another man in the parking lot outside Steam, a pub in Upper Southampton, will not face criminal charges. 

Bucks County investigators determined that Liam Hughes acted in self defense when he fired eight shots at three men who assaulted him after he and a friend left the bar at 606 Second Street Pike at 11:30 p.m. on Oct. 7. 

"Self-defense played a critical role," Bucks County District Attorney Weintraub said at a news conference Thursday. "Use of deadly force by Liam 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."

The decision was made after investigators examined surveillance videos from the bar and the parking lot, and additional evidence, Weintraub said. Everyone involved in the incident had been inside the bar that night, but Hughes had had no interaction with his attackers. 

Two of Hughes' attackers – Raymond Farrell, 28, of Philadelphia, and Steven Panebianco, 30, of Bensalem, died at the scene. The third, Michael Michell, 24, of Philadelphia, is facing simple assault charges for throwing punches at Hughes during the scuffle, prosecutors said. 

Richard Bowman, 24, of Philadelphia, who attempted to break up the fight, is expected to recover from the gunshot wound he suffered. Hughes cannot be charged for wounding Bowman because he fired the shots in self-defense, Weintraub said. Bowman also will not be charged. 

Hughes, an auto technician and military reservist from Middletown, was returning to his car when a group of men gathered nearby confronted him. After Hughes asked Michell to stop leaning on his car, Panebianco, who was intoxicated, threw a punch, and the men began to beat Hughes, striking him in the head and face, investigators said. His friend ran into the bar to seek help. 

After an unsuccessful attempt to get into his car and flee, Hughes grabbed his gun, located between the driver's seat and center console, investigators said. He told his attackers that he had a firearm, but they continued. He then fired eight shots, striking Farrell four times and Panebianco twice. Bowman suffered a gunshot wound to his shoulder. 

Immediately after the shooting, Hughes called 911. "They jumped me. I had to," he told dispatchers, according to a recording of the call. 

Hughes stayed on the scene until police showed up, investigators said. He was interviewed and had his blood tested. He did not have any alcohol in his blood at the time of the shooting, investigators said. Hughes also surrendered his phone, clothing and weapon. Hughes had a legal firearm pit. 

Hughes suffered a concussion, a contusion on his left ear, a bloody nose, a split lip and bruises to his forehead, Weintraub said. He also has experienced post-traumatic headaches.