WEST GOSHEN, PA. — Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan took a deep breath, looked through a row of TV cameras toward the family of 18-year-old Bianca Roberson and announced Sunday morning the man police believe pulled the trigger in a road-rage shooting that snuffed out her promising young life was in custody.
Hogan announced first-degree murder charges against David Desper, 28, of the 1200 block of Anderson Avenue in Trainer, Delaware County. Desper turned himself in to West Goshen police with his attorney at 2 a.m. Sunday.
Hogan was joined by West Goshen police at a Sunday morning press conference to announce that an avalanche of tips from the public led first to the red pickup truck that was the subject of a nationwide search, then to the gun used to end a young life, and then to the suspect.
Desper faces charges of first- and third-degree murder, possession of an instrument of crime with intent, and recklessly endangering another person in what Hogan called “a savage, brutal act.”
Hogan said that because Desper was charged with a capital offense, no bail would be set. He was arraigned early Sunday and remanded to Chester County Prison.
Hogan said that a dented and faded red Chevy Silverado C1500, matching the physical description of the vehicle recorded in videos, was registered to Desper and recovered at 58 Huntington Farm Drive in Glen Mills.
The firearm and truck were found at separate locations, the D.A. said.
Hogan said a crucial piece of evidence actually came from the body of the recent Rustin High School graduate. Fragments of a .40-caliber bullet consistent with being fired from a Smith and Wesson .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun were discovered.
Police executed a search of Desper’s residence, and a .40-caliber handgun was found in the defendant’s bedroom, Hogan said. In a nearby trash can, .40-caliber ammunition was discovered, the D.A. added.
Hogan said Desper purchased the gun legally on Nov. 5, 2015, and had a permit to carry the firearm.
Hogan referred to the confrontation as a “savage, senseless and brutal act,” noting the victim was “gunned down because somebody didn’t want to give way” on a roadway.
The district attorney said the young teen driver was doing something residents do routinely “thousands of times every day.”
Roberson was trying to merge at the 0.1-mile marker of the Route 100 Bypass at Route 202, when she engaged the suspect. She was killed instantly by a single bullet to the left side of the head.
“It is the exact same thing that all of us do every day — merging safely,” Hogan said. “The act of pulling a gun, aiming a gun and being able to shoot someone in the head from one vehicle to another is a calculated act.”
Hogan noted the massive law enforcement effort that unfolded soon after the fatal encounter, which occurred 5:30 Wednesday afternoon. The D.A. said 20 police officers and staffers from the District Attorney’s office worked around-the-clock during the four-day investigation, launching a manhunt that captured the attention of the nation, even being covered by the nightly network news.
“We looked at all of the red pickup trucks across the region and everyone with a gun permit,” Hogan said.
The D.A. said that the homicide investigation will continue until “justice is done” for Bianca Roberson.
West Goshen Township Police Chief Joseph Gleason gave his condolences to the Roberson family and said he was appreciative of the work by both local and surrounding police.
“They were relentless in their quest,” Gleason said. “I’m very proud of their work.”
He also thanked the media for getting the word out about the case. He lauded the community for rallying around the Roberson family, and pushing updates out on social media like “wildfire.”
Police in West Goshen fielded hundreds of tips from all corners of the nation. Police reviewed video tapes from surveillance cameras along Route 100, as well as neighboring residences and businesses.
Police theorize that after the shooting, the suspect fled along the shoulder of Route 100 at a high rate of speed, exiting at Paoli Pike and eventually taking Route 352 south into Delaware County. That bit of news Saturday night pushed the investigation into the neighboring county.
Meanwhile, family and friends gathered outside the Roberson family home in West Goshen to honor the young woman who was headed to Jacksonville University in Florida in just a few weeks to start her college career.
Roberson had been shopping for new clothes at Main Street at Exton with family members and had just left to drive home when she encountered the suspect on Route 100.
Police theorize she and the driver of the pickup truck started jockeying for position where Route 100 narrows to a single lane.
Roberson’s father, Rodney Roberson, said the family was excited that his daughter was going away to Jacksonville University in Florida to study psychology. She had set her sights on a FBI career.
“She was everything to me, everything, everything,” Roberson said. “I can’t imagine anybody wanting to hurt my daughter. She never hurt anyone. She made you laugh.”
Roberson’s aunt, Mari Hatton-Haynes, said that her niece enjoyed drawing and was a “happy-go-lucky person who enjoyed life.”
Neighbor Sean Endrey was one of the hundreds holding a candle at Friday night’s vigil as darkness fell.
“It’s important for us to not only show support but show she lives on,” he said. “It’s good for us, but the purpose is to show our support and connection to her no matter how big or small.”
This was the second child the Roberson family has lost. An older brother passed away several years ago from a heart condition.
“Knowing what they’re going through, not once but twice,” lamented family friend Steve Lyons.
Rodney Roberson told the group that everyone knows his daughter was not a bad person.
“We hope this guy is caught to bring justice for our daughter,” Rodney Roberson told the throng. “It touches our hearts that you all came out to support our daughter.”
The Pennsylvania Crimestoppers organization offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case.