Martina Westcott, a 2011 College graduate, was charged with murder after fatally shooting Terrell Bruce on Tuesday. Westcott shot Bruce while while he was driving down Walnut Lane in Germantown as she sat in the passenger seat.
Bruce is referred to as both her boyfriend and ex-boyfriend in different reports. Police say 27-year-old Westcott and 33-year-old Bruce were arguing inside the SUV when she shot him in the head, causing an accident with another vehicle. She initially fled to her family's home in Roxborough, but turned herself in to the police on Wednesday, Germantown Homicide Capt. James Clark told The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Westcott was a graduate of Central High School in Philadelphia, and graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in Health and Societies and a minor in Philosophy with a 3.85 GPA, according to her entry on QuakerNet, an alumni directory. Her entry also says she graduated from Thomas Jefferson University with a master's degree in public health in 2012.
Westcott was a Philadelphia Mayor's Scholar, a participant in the New Spirit of Penn Gospel Choir, a member of the Penn College Achievement Program and a volunteer for the Penn Alumni Interview Program. She also worked with the Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative, an organization promoting healthy eating habits in Philadelphia high schools.
According to Westcott's LinkedIn profile, she worked full-time as a nutrition programming supervisor and also was a research assistant in the Annenberg School for Communication.
In 2014, she starting working for the National Board of Medical Examiners to develop the Step 2 Clinical Skills exam that all practicing physicians in the United States are required to pass. According to the Inquirer, she was most recently working at the AIDS Activities Coordinating Office of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health as an entry-level disease surveillance investigator.
Those who knew her were surprised by the news.
"That does not sound like her at all. Martina has always been great and reliable," Peter Borisuk told the Inquirer. "She was a sweet girl, very intelligent and very capable."
Borisuk was listed as a reference on Westcott's profile for a childcare website.
"She was the best person on this whole street," Ronald Brinkley, who lived across the street from Westcott, told the Inquirer. "She was deep into love. She loved extra hard."
The director of the PennCAP program, Pamela Edwards, confirmed that Westcott was a "member of the PennCAP community." She called the news "upsetting" and a "tragic incident" in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian but declined to provide further comment.
Some of Westcott's recent Facebook posts alluded to relationship troubles.
"Every day is a box. You decide whether it will be a gift or a coffin," she wrote on Dec. 13, and only a day later posted, "Marriage is the privilege of partnership."
"If someone ever suggests, 'Don't fall in love, he might break your heart,' your only response should be, 'Don't live, you might die,'" she wrote on Dec. 19.
Terrell Bruce's fraternal twin brother, Brandon Bruce, disputes the claims by the police that Westcott and Bruce were arguing or that they were in a relationship.
"How do they know they were arguing? Did she tell them that?" Bruce said to the Inquirer. "All that information is coming from the killer. She's trying to create a narrative. No one in my family has ever seen this woman before."
She was charged on four counts, according to the court summary, including murder, carrying firearms without a license, carrying firearms in public and possession of a weapon with intent to employ it criminally. Westcott is being held in jail without bail after a judge arraigned her on Wednesday night, according to NBC10.
Her preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 11, according to court records.
Both University spokesperson Stephen MacCarthy and the Health and Societies Department declined to comment.
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