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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.