One 19-year-old critically injured, two 18-year-olds in custody
By Kathleen Brady Shea, Managing Editor, The Times
On Wednesday about 9:50 p.m., shots rang out in a residential area of downtown West Chester, blocks from the Justice Center, and West Chester Police arrived to find a blood trail, numerous shell casings and bullets that penetrated a residence, Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said.
Hogan said the victim, Anthony Berry Jr., 19, of West Chester, is in critical but stable condition at Paoli Hospital after being shot in the torso and through the ear. Thanks to the prompt response of borough police and Chester County Detectives, two 18-year-olds are in custody: Thyshawn Thompson and William Simpson, both from West Chester, Hogan said.
“West Chester Police and the Chester County Detectives did an excellent job taking these two thugs off of the street,” said Hogan. “This shooting was inches from being a homicide of the victim or of any of the innocent civilians caught in the line of fire.”
West Chester Police Chief Scott L. Bohn agreed, citing the density of the well-traveled neighborhood. “We were extremely fortunate that this act did not result in the loss of a human life. I am thankful to our law enforcement personnel for the excellent work in making quick arrests and recovering the weapon used in the assault,” said Bohn. “I would also note and thank the residents in the area for their cooperation and support of our efforts.”
According to the criminal complaint, two witnesses who are not being identified for their safety, reporting hearing shots and then seeing a male, later identified as Thompson, holding a silver gun near the intersection. Thompson ejected the slide from the gun and handed it to Simpson, saying: “I told you I would shoot [the victim].”
Both defendants fled into Thompson’s residence in the 100 block of North New Street and then ran out the back and over wooden fences, the complaint said, adding that West Chester Police apprehended the defendants climbing over the fences. The police located the silver gun in a yard behind the residences on North New Street, the complaint said.
The victim had been transported from the scene to the hospital in a private vehicle, the complaint said. Police ran a check on the recovered firearm – a 9mm Taurus semi-automatic handgun – and determined that it was reported stolen in 2012, the complaint said.
In a statement to police, despite the information from multiple witnesses, Simpson claimed that he did not know Thompson or the victim and had no knowledge of the shooting, the complaint said. However, when the police went to seize Simpson’s clothes to process them for gunshot residue, a shell casing fell out of Simpson’s clothes that matched the casings from the scene, the complaint said.
Applauding the investigators, who were assisted by Good Will Fire Company No. 2, Hogan said, “The only way to control this sort of street violence is through aggressive and smart patrolling by a fully staffed police department.”
He also called the trauma center at Paoli Hospital “an invaluable resource” to the region. Whether the surgeons are operating on people seriously injured in car crashes or gunshot victims, the Paoli Hospital surgeons are saving lives every day,” Hogan said.