When it was over, school buses shuttled mourners to a parking lot. St. Paul's Baptist Church in West Chester was so packed for the funeral of Bianca Roberson, the 18-year-old victim of what police say was a road-rage murder, that a reception room was opened to handle the overflow, her brother said.
And on the faces of parents Michelle and Rodney Roberson Sr., "you saw tears of joy and pain," said Loretta Porter, a relative.
During the 90-minute service, among those who paid tribute were her brothers; officials from Bayard Rustin High School, from which she had just graduated; an admissions officer from Jacksonville University, which she was to attend in the fall; and numerous friends, according to a funeral program and service attendees. All members of the media were barred from the church.
"I think her best friend's memories touched me the most," Porter said. "Her best friend really drove it home … how [Bianca] touched so many people."
For Porter, the brothers' speeches also were powerful, especially when they spoke of "the coward who stole their sister away from them."
Ayisha Smith, mother of Bianca Roberson's niece, said an official from the high school talked about how when a classmate got sick at the senior prom, Bianca Roberson cut her night short to help.
The service concluded with a rendition of "Amazing Grace" from the West Chester Area School District's string ensemble and a "message of hope" from the Rev. Wayne E. Croft.
Porter said Croft stressed that children are "gifts from God" who are on "borrowed time" on Earth.
"I know she sits with the angels today," Porter said.
In a drenching downpour earlier that morning, family and friends had filed into St. Paul's for the viewing, which began at 8 a.m.
Across the street, TV cameras and satellite trucks formed a phalanx on a hilly patch of grass, lenses fixed on the church.
After the funeral, those who attended hugged and laughed in the parking lot, in front of a pink-flower-covered hearse. In addtion to the shuttles, a line of cars processed out toward Frazer, where Roberson was set to be buried at Philadelphia Memorial Park.
Dasiah Shaw, 22, of Yeadon, Delaware County, said the service reminded her of all the lessons she learned from Bianca, her friend and coworker at the White Horse Village senior complex.
"Live life to the fullest. Always tell loved ones you love them," Shaw said. "Tomorrow is not promised."
Bianca's alleged shooter, David Desper, 28, of Trainer, Delaware County, is scheduled to appear before Chester County Judge William D. Kraut at 9 a.m. Thursday. Desper remained jailed without bail on Friday.