Megan Hickey, WNDU (South Bend), July 24, 2015
Witnesses at the scene of a shooting on South Bend’s west side Thursday evening said the display of a version of the Confederate flag led to an argument that ended in gunshots.
Police located the victim, 28-year-old Richard Dillman, who was transported from the scene with gunshot wounds to the cheek and back. Dillman’s injuries are not life threatening.
Beyond those main facts, police say reports vary widely about what led up to the violence.
“A lot of the components of the story are opposing one another,” Capt. Phil Trent of the South Bend Police Dept. said Friday. “Instead of this puzzle having 20 pieces, it has 500.”
Police could not confirm the role that a Confederate flag may have played in the shooting.
But friends and family told NewsCenter16 that Dillman was sporting a version of the Confederate flag off the side of his Ford Explorer at the time of the incident. They said the flag had a U.S. Army emblem and writing and was mounted to the back or side of the car.
Dillman, an army veteran from Arkansas, was visiting a friend who lived on Birdsell Street when the incident took place.
“He was driving over here and he got down the corner a bunch of people started yelling at him about the flag,” Dillman’s friend, Cally Baker said. “I don’t know exactly what they we’re saying but I can assume Richard was yelling back at them.”
Other witnesses at the scene described an exchange of racial slurs.
“I see this huge Confederate flag and some guys yelling slurs,” said witness J.J. who asked not to use his last name. “I couldn’t tell what slurs were going back and forth.”
Accounts from this point vary widely.
Some witnesses said Dillman was armed but others maintain that he was not.
“I’ve never known him to handle a gun and for him to instigate something is very hard to believe,” Baker said.
Capt. Trent could not confirm whether Dillman was armed at the time of the argument. The vehicle has been secured on police premises for investigational purposes.
Dillman was the only victim. After being shot twice he drove over to Baker’s home and police arrived on the scene.
Right now, police only have Dillman’s side of the story. The three individuals, one of whom is assumed to be the shooter, left the scene before police arrived.
Original reports described the suspect as a thin, black male. Some reports said the three men left the scene in a red vehicle with chrome wheels, possibly a Pontiac Grand Prix.