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Mentally Ill Gunman Sent to State Prison for Firing at Mom, Son

June 26, 2018

Contact: Monica W. Furber, 215.348.6297, mwfurber@buckscounty.org

Brandon Grosso
    Brandon Grosso

A mentally ill man who fired a shotgun into a moving vehicle outside Quakertown last year, narrowly missing a mother and her son, was sentenced last week to serve two to seven years in state prison.

Brandon Grosso, 33, of Telford, was found guilty but mentally ill in April of two counts of aggravated assault and related misdemeanor offenses after a two-day trial before Bucks County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey G. Trauger.

On May 18, 2017, Grosso leaned out of the Mercedes he was driving and fired a shotgun shell into a Ford sedan turning ahead of him at a stop sign in the Richland Crossing Shopping Center.

The round shattered the rear window glass and dented the roof of the vehicle, missing the driver, Barbara Lavin of Richland, by about one inch. Lavin’s adult son, Sean Lavin, was struck in the arm and head by shattered glass as he sat in the front passenger seat.

Grosso then fled in his car, which police found abandoned at a gas station before he was arrested outside a hotel in Milford Township.

Grosso contended that the crime resulted from mental illness caused by multiple traumatic brain injuries. Just before the shooting, employees of a nearby doughnut shop had reported him acting paranoid and erratic, asking bizarre questions, making obscene gestures at customers and asking if there was a back door through which he could escape. 

Trauger, finding that Grosso was severely mentally ill at the time, sentenced him to serve concurrent two- to seven-year sentences for the aggravated assaults, followed by a consecutive seven years of probation for the related crimes of possession of an instrument of crime, possession of a weapon, and recklessly endangering another person.

“I don’t know how long it’s going to take you to get better,” the judge told Grosso, referring to the lengthy probation.

Barbara Lavin, who was told by police that she could have been killed had Grosso aimed one inch lower, said she remains haunted by the shooting. “The words, `one inch lower’ repeatedly play in my mind like a broken recording,” she told Trauger at the sentencing.

Sean Lavin said that if he had not moved from the back seat to the front after they dropped off his sister, he would have been in the line of fire.

“The effect on these victims is profound,” Deputy District Attorney Monica W. Furber said, arguing for a lengthy prison sentence. Grosso’s actions “were incredibly dangerous [and] could have resulted in the deaths of these victims,” as well as bystanders, she said.

Furber said that Grosso was well aware of his mental health issues and had failed to comply with treatment recommendations, resulting in his out-of-control behavior.

Forensic psychologist John Markey testified that Grosso suffers from neurocognitive disorder because of traumatic brain injuries, and generalized anxiety disorder. Grosso, he said, had severe symptoms at the time of the crime that have lessened with treatment and medication.

Grosso testified that he had received several concussions from playing football, followed by head injuries from three traffic accidents since 2016 – the most recent shortly before the shooting. He said he was “embarrassed and upset” by his actions, and that he says “a prayer of thanks every day that nobody was physically injured.”

Defense attorney Michal Parlow asked Trauger to place Grosso on a lengthy probation with 90-day reporting updates so that Grosso could continue his current treatment.

“There’s no amount of time in prison that is going to take away the pain of the victims,” Parlow argued. “I don’t believe putting Mr. Grosso in jail is going to solve society’s problems …. He’s putting the pieces of his life back together.”

Trauger said he was disappointed that Grosso, despite his severe mental illness, still had access to a firearm.

“If you didn’t have the gun, this never would have happened,” the judge said. “I think these two people had God looking over their shoulders.”

The case was investigated by the Richland Township Police Department.

Office of the District Attorney
Bucks County Justice Center
100 N. Main Street
Doylestown, PA 18901 
Phone: 215-348-6344 
Fax: 215-348-6299

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