A day after a shootout at the 69th Street Transportation Center in Upper Darby, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer announced murder and other charges against the gunman, David Savage, 45, of Upper Darby.
Shortly before wounding a bystander and shooting at two SEPTA police officers, Savage is alleged to have “brutally executed” his girlfriend, Latoya Gary, in her apartment in the presence of her family members. Gary’s relatives were not harmed.
“We are thankful that the SEPTA police officers, who were the heroes of this by taking fire, returning fire, and then apprehending this individual, did such a great job,” Stollsteimer said at a Friday press conference announcing the charges.
Upper Darby Police Superintendent Timothy Bernhardt called Gary’s slaying a “senseless act of domestic violence” — and said things could have been even worse.
“I believe 100% that this was a suicide by police. I believe that Mr. Savage, in statements and his actions, he wanted the police to take his life,” Bernhardt said.
He urged people in potentially dangerous relationships to reach out to Delaware County’s Domestic Abuse Project to get the support they need. The hotline number is 610-565-4590.
In addition to murder and attempted murder, Savage faces charges related to possessing a weapon. Despite a criminal record and a history of incidents at the residence in Upper Darby, Savage was able to obtain a firearm. His arraignment was expected to take place Friday.
Stollsteimer said Thursday’s events were part of a wave of violence across the region.
“It is a tragedy, an American tragedy, what’s going on in many of our urban areas in America. We see rising violent crime everywhere,” Stollsteimer said.
He said the accessibility of firearms and the stresses of the pandemic are to blame, as well as poverty.
“I believe that violent crime always can be traced to, especially in urban areas, to poverty. The more people who live in poverty and don’t have hope, and don’t believe in the system, the more they tend to turn to violent crime,” Stollsteimer said.
While promising to deliver on initiatives to break the cycle, Stollsteimer took shots at those who propose defunding the police as a policy solution to a criminal justice system at a crossroads.
“When in fact, you see what happened here today, that these police officers and SEPTA police officers were actually the ones there, because God knows how many other people would have been killed if these guys didn’t act so heroically that day,” Stollsteimer said.
There are “common sense solutions” that everyone can agree on, Stollsteimer said, but he thinks that these conversations need to start happening.
Saturdays just got more interesting.