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Fanta Bility.

More than 70 people stood outside in the parking lot of the Sharon Hill School Saturday to attend a community meeting to hear concerns and to bring justice to the family of Fanta Bility.

Fanta Bility was the 8-year-old who was shot and killed after an Academy Park football game on Aug. 27. Angelo “AJ” Ford, 16, of Sharon Hill and Hasein Strand, 18, of Collingdale were identified as having had an argument which ended in gunfire in the 900 block of Coates Street. They are charged with Bility’s death.

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer has said there is a “high probability” she died as the result of police gunfire. Court documents said that immediately after Ford and Strand allegedly fired their shots, three uniformed officers supervising the exit of spectators from the football field discharged their weapons as well. Under the laws of the commonwealth, Stollsteimer said Ford and Strand can be held criminally liable for all of the victims in the case under the doctrine of “transferred intent.”

There is an ongoing grand jury determining whether the officers were justified in allegedly discharging their own weapons. No officers have been charged in the case as the probe goes on, though the officers have been suspended from duty.

Saturday’s Call to Action: Community Meeting was hosted by U.D.T.J. (Understanding, Devotion, Take Action, Justice) and Delco Resists.

“We appreciate your support to seek justice for Fanta Bility,” Abdul Bility, Fanta’s uncle, told those who attended the meeting. “We appreciate your effort. Our purpose for being here is to seek justice for Fanta Bility.”

Of the Sharon Hill police and the District Attorney, he said, “We want them to do the right job.”

The family attorney spoke of the importance of having events like the one Saturday in which seven breakout groups were formed to discuss feelings and their next steps.

“Having a dialogue amongst ourselves and trying to understand what’s going on and make sense out of something that is senseless is in and of itself a valuable thing,” Bruce Castor, the attorney representing the Bility family, said at the community meeting. “But there’s something even more important in having these gatherings. When you have these gatherings, it reminds our elected officials and our appointed officials that not just we are watching but the broader community is watching. And, when you’re an elected and appointed official, it is critical … to know that your decisions are going to be questioned.”

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A former Montgomery County district attorney, Castor shared an insight on the case.

“I can report to you that some of the things that are happening are unusual in my over 35 years experience doing this kind of work,” he said.  “I’m not saying that there’s anybody doing anything improper, illegal, wrong or whatnot. What I can tell you is that we’re going to do everything we can … to make sure that the police officers and the administrators in Sharon Hill are held accountable for the death of Fanta Bility.”

He urged the attendants to stay active.

“The time to make sure that public officials’ feet are held to the fire is now and will continue until such time as the grand jury does it work and the justice system has run its course,” said Castor, who recently defended former President Donald Trump at his second impeachment trial. “On behalf of the Fanta Bility family, I want to thank you all so much for coming out here. This is an important part of the process – to make sure that our leaders, appointed and elected, know that their constituents are watching.”

No members of Sharon Hill borough government or its police department were present. One person identified themselves as a representative of the Southeast Delco School District but declined to identify themselves. Stollsteimer was also not present and was unable to be reached later.

Dan Corcoran, who ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for Ridley township commissioner, attended.

“The District Attorney wants (state Attorney General Josh) Shapiro’s job,” Corcoran claimed. “So he needs the backing of the FOP.

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Shaipro is running for the Democratic nomination for governor.

“We need to call people out,” he continued, “and we need to stay on them. If we want justice, we need to be loud.”

Dyamond Gibbs, one of the organizers, raised a sentiment that was echoed throughout the event.

“After months of passing, we still don’t have basic answers as to who shot the bullets, why the officers aren’t even being held accountable but what we do see is two teens being plastered around the news media for something they did not do,” she said. “And, I have a problem with that.”

To the Bility family, Gibbs said, “You have an army of supporters behind you and we are ready to take action and help you get the justice that you need and make sure that these officers are held accountable. It may be a month-long process, it may take a couple of years actually before it’s done properly … but just know that we’re not going to let up. The fight is going to continue … and we just want you to know that we are here for you.”

Sheila A. Carter, president of the Darby Area National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, discussed the issue of first-degree murder charges.

“The two young men that are being charged, they’re being charged with first-degree murder,” the Sharon Hill resident said. “It requires that the defendant plan the murder before it was committed or was lying in wait for the victim. Think about that when you think about the charges that are put on the two young men. It’s been stated that they were not at the location but down the block, so it’s kind of hard to think how was it premeditated.”

To which, Steve Clark, who identified as family of one of the charged teens, said, “Stay woke, Sharon Hill. Stay woke.”

Carter, who is a former police officer, also questioned the use of deadly force by police.

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“As a police officer, when you use deadly force, it’s because your life or someone else in the area is in danger of being harmed, that’s when you use deadly force,” she said.

“In all of my years here, and I was born and raised here, I’ve never seen a case like this,” Carter continued. “First of all, we have three individuals – meaning the three police officers who live in our community – have not been identified yet. I know we need to know why. Why is it that we can protect the identity of the police officers but when the young individuals were put on the front page of the Daily Times newspaper – a 16-year-old young man was put on the front page? But not once have we heard who these officers are. So, who is being protected?

“We have not identified the people that have caused damage … ” Carter said. “We need to know. How are we as a community going to heal when we don’t know who’s protecting us? We have to know. And, how do we grow as a community when we have people in power that are placing blame on others that wasn’t even there?”

She said the NAACP wants to know what happened and were the officers justifiable when they allegedly shot their weapons.

The event organizers said they are planning a rally at the Delaware County Courthouse in Media in January, as well as a messaging campaign to the District Attorney, the Pennsylvania Attorney General and the U.S. Department of Justice.

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