Pascagoula, Mississippi

From of April 16, 2007

Pas man killed in shooting

A man found dead in a Pascagoula apartment early Saturday morning may have been killed in self defense.

Van “Buddy” Bardwell, 42, was found dead in the kitchen of Lowell Richard Semans’ apartment at 4508 Lanier Avenue. Bardwell was clutching a hatchet, according to a press release from the Pascagoula Police Department.

According to the press release, Semans warned Bardwell not to enter his home, but Bardwell charged Semans, who shot him once with a .38 caliber handgun. No charges have been filed.

The press release also said Semans and Bardwell had a confrontation Friday evening, but Jonathan Randall and Danielle Roberts, who live in the apartment next to Semans, said they thought the two men were friends.

From the of April 17, 2007

Man accused of retaliating after shooting

A $50,000 bond was set Monday for Benjamin Emmitt Tillman Sr., the 74-year-old Pascagoula man accused of retaliating against Lowell Richard Semans, who claimed self defense when he shot and killed Van Harold “Buddy” Bardwell Saturday night at the apartment complex Bardwell’s mother owns at 4508 Lanier Ave.

Semans remained in critical condition Monday at Singing River Hospital from injuries he sustained when Tillman, father of Pascagoula police Capt. George Tillman, rammed his vehicle several times, ejecting Semans from his vehicle Sunday, the day after the shooting.

Semans, 61, told police that he shot Bardwell at about 11:50 p.m. Saturday after Bardwell abruptly entered Semans’ apartment and charged him with a hatchet. Semans told police that he warned Bardwell to stop but he continued to come toward him. Semans then fired one shot from a .38-caliber handgun, fatally striking Bardwell.

Officers found Bardwell on the kitchen floor with a hatchet clutched in his right hand. Police said autopsy results and other evidence also supported Semans’ statements and that Bardwell was in “very close proximity” to Semans when he fired the fatal shot to Bardwell’s head.

Sgts. Ronnie Thomas and Joe Don Cunningham are continuing to research reports that the two men had some sort of confrontation before the shooting.

Semans has not been charged with any crime, and the case, because of the possible self-defense implications, will be presented to a Jackson County grand jury for final review, police said.

Meanwhile, Tillman is charged with aggravated assault, a charge that could be upgraded if Semans dies.

According to police, officer David Cole saw Tillman, driving a white Ford truck, begin ramming the rear of Semans’ green Ford truck while both vehicles traveled north on Hospital Road on Sunday.

Cole reported that Tillman’s actions caused Semans to lose control of his truck, cross the median at U.S. 90 and Hospital Road and enter oncoming traffic.

Tillman then crossed the median, chasing after Semans’ truck, and began ramming it head-on, police said.

Semans was ejected from his truck on to the pavement. Acadian Ambulance took him to the hospital, where he was admitted into the intensive care unit for his undisclosed injuries.

Tillman and his two passengers, Donna Broadus and Benjamin Emmitt Tillman Jr., were all taken to the police department, where investigators learned the act was a retaliation for Bardwell’s death.

No charges were filed against Benjamin Emmitt Tillman Jr. or Broadus.


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