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Thursday, January 1, 2009

IL- Joliet man fatally shot

12-30-2008 Illinois:

Who killed sex offender near Joliet Township store?
Police seek suspect

JOLIET TOWNSHIP -- Police are investigating the death of a man shot outside a liquor store Tuesday night.

Ralph Bridges, 56, had been a customer at Ranch Liquors, 1913 S. Chicago St., Will County Sheriff's spokesman Pat Barry said.

"Around 10 p.m., he walks (back) inside and says, 'I've just been shot,' before he collapses," Barry said.

The two clerks called 911 and an unresponsive Bridges was taken to Silver Cross Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 10:47 p.m.

Barry said the employees reported hearing a bang "like someone was stomping their feet against the building" shortly before Bridges returned to the liquor store.

"They also heard a car leaving the parking lot at a high rate of speed, but they did not see the vehicle," he said. There were no other customers in the liquor store at the time.

Will County Coroner Patrick K. O'Neil said an autopsy performed Wednesday confirmed Bridges was killed by a single gunshot wound.

Barry said Bridges lived at 104 Akin Ave. in Joliet and detectives were investigating what he had done earlier Tuesday evening, in an attempt to identify a suspect.

Victim had a criminal background
"It should be noted the victim is a registered sex offender with an extensive criminal history," Barry said.

Records show Bridges was arrested on weapons charges by Joliet police in 1979 and sheriff's police in 1980.

In December 1987, he attempted to escape a security guard at Hillcrest Shopping Center in Crest Hill "by opening the doors and getting into several passing cars" as he ran through the parking lot. Bridges was arrested after locking himself in the bathroom of a nearby fast-food restaurant.

He allegedly "jumped into a stranger's car" and led Crest Hill police on a chase during a similar theft the following November.

In 1991, Bridges was sentenced to three years in prison for two other shoplifting crimes. Apparently released early, he was arrested on charges of retail theft and burglary in 1993. The allegations included trying to steal a ham from a market in the 1600 block of West Jefferson Street. Police said Bridges ran into the nearby neighborhood, trying to escape, but was caught by a store employee and an off-duty officer. He was also charged with battery and aggravated assault during that incident.

Bridges was again arrested for retail theft after reportedly taking $39 in medical supplies from a Lockport pharmacy in 1998. He was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia by sheriff's police the following year and criminal trespassing by Joliet police in 2000.

In 2002, Bridges was one of 27 people arrested in Operation Pick-Off, a yearlong undercover investigation of crack dealers operating on Joliet's East Side.

According to reports, over the next six years Joliet police arrested Bridges on drug charges three more times and on a charge of criminal sexual assault in July 2008. (Note: Single offense) ..News Source.. by By BRIAN STANLEY

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