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Shawnfatee Michael BRIDGES

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Retaliation - The victims had stolen his girlfriend
Number of victims: 2
Date of murder: December 7, 1996
Date of birth: February 16, 1977
Victims profile: Damon and Gregory Banks
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Berks County, Pennsylvania, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on February 23, 1998
 
 
 
 
 
 

Shawnfatee M. Bridges

On Saturday, December 7, 1996, the girlfriend of Shawnfatee M. Bridges was robbed at gunpoint while she was staying at Bridges’s home. Bridges was working at the Casablanca Club and not home at the time.

Bridges returned home and the girlfriend related to Bridges that during the robbery “a whole bunch of guys ran in with masks and hoodies." Bridges then returned to the Casablanca Club and told Co-Defendant Richard Morales what had happened.

At approximately 12 noon on Sunday, December 8, 1996, Shawnfatee Bridges, and Co-Defendant Richard Morales drove Bridges’s blue minivan to the home of a mutual friend, George Robles. Also present at the Robles’ home that day was the third Co-Defendant, Roderick Johnson.

When Bridges and Morales first arrived, they spoke with Co-Defendant Johnson, but soon thereafter, they called Robles downstairs. Robles testified at trial that Bridges explained, “ . . . how the Banks’ boys went in his house with guns to his girlfriend’s head and his kid was there and how he was going to take care of them right now."

During the same conversation, Bridges said, “I gotta take them out. I am gonna get them and I’m gonna kill them and I’m going to put an end to this forever. Because if I let them get away with it now they are going to try to do it again so I’m going to have to do what I have to do."

Then all three co-defendants tried, unsuccessfully, to convince Mr. Robles to join them. Despite Mr. Robles’ refusal, the conversation continued with all three codefendants saying, “we are gonna kill them. We are going to put an end to this."

At approximately this point in the conversation, Bridges pulled out a 9 mm. Glock handgun and continued to say how he was “gonna kill them.”' As the planning progressed, the three talked about when the killings would take place.

According to Robles, Roderick Johnson wanted to implement their plan immediately, but Bridges wanted to “wait until it gets dark because then we don’t have to worry about as many people."

Later that afternoon, at approximately 5:30, Bridges, Morales and Johnson arrived at the Banks’ house. Shawnfatee Bridges went in the house and talked with the victims, Damon and Gregory Banks.

Before leaving, Damon Banks went upstairs and, unbeknownst to Bridges, loaded a.32 caliber automatic handgun which he took with him.

The three codefendants and the two victims left the home of Damon and Greg Banks at approximately 6:00 PM. All five of them left in the blue Plymouth Voyager owned by Bridges.

According to Bridges’s statement, the five occupants of the van, “drove down Neversink, pulled in to a little cut in a road." Roderick Johnson was in the driver’s seat. Bridges, Shawnfatee Bridges was in the front passenger seat. Richard Morales was seated next to the sliding door. Damon Banks was seated behind Roderick Johnson and Greg Banks was seated between Morales and Damon Banks.

According to Shawnfatee Bridges’ own statement, after they had pulled over to the side of the road, Roderick Johnson began shooting both victims. Then Johnson ran around the side of the van opened the door and pulled the victims out of the van and continued to shoot.

At that point, again according to Bridges’ own statement, Bridges saw a gun on the floor and began to shoot in the direction of Johnson. When Johnson began to run away from the van, Bridges returned to the van and left. Bridges drove to a street corner in Reading and poured gasoline in the van and set a match to it, completely gutting the van. At that point Bridges returned home.

Subsequently, Johnson was located approximately four miles’ away from the scene of the shooting, at the Queen City Restaurant. He was transported to the Reading Hospital, where the bullet was surgically removed. Eventually, Bridges went to the home of Richard Morales and stayed there overnight.

The next day, as news about the Banks shooting, the shooting of Roderick Johnson, and the burning of the van began to spread, Bridges called a friend of his to take him to the airport in Philadelphia, ostensibly to visit relatives.

Meanwhile, members of the Exeter Police Department, the Reading Police Department, and the Pennsylvania State Police began the process of piecing together what had happened.

At approximately 7:20 PM, on the night of the murders, officers from Exeter arrived at the scene. They secured the area and began the process of collecting evidence. Among the evidence collected were eight 9 mm. shell casings.

In addition, in a separate location, officers located a 9 mm. bullet and another shell casing. In addition, Officer Rowe, of the Reading Police Department, was dispatched to the scene of the van fire. That night officers collected one spent shell casing and one shotgun.

Subsequently, investigators sifted through the charred remains of the van and discovered an additional bullet. Both of the bullets were analyzed and found to be 9 mm. projectiles.

The bodies of Damon and Gregory Banks were transported to Reading Hospital so that an autopsy could be performed. Dr. Nell Hoffman, Forensic Pathologist, testified that the body of Gregory Banks was riddled with five gunshot wounds. The most fatal of which were the two head wounds.

Additionally, he testified that, the body of Damon Banks sustained thirteen bullet wounds. One of the thirteen projectiles was bullet “D” which entered the victim at the back, right side of the neck where it severed the spinal cord.

According to Dr. Hoffman, this instantaneously rendered Damon Banks a quadriplegic. Dr. Hoffman testified that the manner of death for both Damon and Gregory Banks was homicide.

Finally, Trooper Kurt Tempinski of the Pennsylvania State Police Laboratory, Ballistics Section, examined two bullets recovered from the van, two bullets recovered from the body of Gregory Banks, and eight bullets recovered from the body of Damon Banks and found that all the marks exhibited by the bullets were consistent with each other and therefore had to have been fired from the same gun.

In addition, Trooper Tempinski stated that, in his expert opinion, a Glock is the only weapon that demonstrates the particular markings found on both the bullets and shell casings recovered in this case.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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