Friends and family are mourning an incoming Jacksonville University student who was shot and killed in what police said was a road rage incident.
Investigators said Bianca Nikol Roberson, 18, of West Chester, Pennsylvania, was driving a green Chevrolet Malibu southbound on Route 100 near Route 202 in West Goshen Township Wednesday around 5:30 p.m. As she was merging into a lane, a red pickup truck also merged in at the same time.
"Route 100 South drops down from two lanes to one lane where it merges into Route 202," Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said during a press conference Thursday night. "At that point her car started jostling with a red pickup truck. Not actually hitting but both of them trying to merge together."
Police said the driver of the pickup truck then pulled out a gun in a fit of road rage and shot Roberson in the head, killing her instantly. Roberson's car went off the side of the road and crashed into a wooded area. The driver of the pickup truck fled the scene down the shoulder of the road on Route 202 and continued onto Paoli Pike.
"This is now a murder case," Hogan said. "A young woman has died senselessly."
The driver of the pickup truck is described as a medium-built, white male, 30 to 40 years old with blonde or light-colored brown hair. His vehicle is described as a small, red Chevrolet pickup truck with faded paint.
"Every cop in three states is looking for this red pickup truck and looking for this defendant," Hogan said. "At this point we're asking anybody who saw anything on Route 100 going into Route 202 to call the West Goshen Police Department right now, tonight. Give us every bit of information you can."
"Turn yourself in now," Hogan said. "Every second you are out there, you are only making this worse for yourself and worse for this young lady's family."
Roberson had just graduated this year from Rustin High School and was headed to Jacksonville University in the fall.
"A young lady in the prime of her life getting ready to go off to college," West Goshen Police Chief Joseph Gleason said. "Now the family has to consider burying her."
Roberson's father, Rodney Roberson, was in tears as he spoke to NBC10 about his daughter's college aspirations.
"We were all excited for her," he said. "She was excited. We were just happy for her."
Roberson's brother Dontae Arburg described his sister's cheerful personality.
"Her personality was very loved," Arburg said. "She always smiled. Always wanted to entertain and make you smile."
Counselors will be available at Rustin High School for students Friday morning from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
"All of us in the West Chester Area School District are deeply shocked and saddened by this horrible news," a spokesperson for the West Chester Area School District wrote. "Bianca had her whole life ahead of her. What should be a time of great joy and celebration in a young person's life has turned into a horrible tragedy."
Roberson's older brother died of heart disease at the age of 22 in 2013. Roberson's family members showed NBC10 a poster of her and her brother that she had made for what would have been her college dorm at Jacksonville University.
"It's an angel that's gonna be missed," Bianca's aunt, Mari Hatton-Hayes said. "But as hard as it is, she's there with her brother."
JU released the following statement regarding Roberson's death:
We are deeply saddened to learn of the untimely and tragic loss of one of our incoming freshmen, Bianca Nikol Roberson, 18, of West Chester, Pa. Bianca planned to study psychology, and we looked forward to warmly greeting her as a member not only of the Class of 2021, but of the entire close-knit JU family. We grieve, too, the loss of the legacy she would undoubtedly have left among us.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Bianca’s parents, family and friends, as well as the students, faculty and staff of Bayard Rustin High School in West Chester, where she had just graduated two weeks ago.
A time that should have been filled with celebration and high hopes has been turned instead into shock and grief as a result of this senseless act, and we offer our profound sympathies to all of Bianca’s loved ones as they deal with this terrible tragedy.The University is sending its formal sympathies as well, and will reach out to the appropriate contacts for information about final arrangements.