- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 13, 2002

PHILADELPHIA As she waited for her husband to return home Friday from a business trip that took him through suburban Washington, Jocelyn Bridges worried about the sniper terrorizing the region, FBI authorities said.
About 4 p.m. Friday they confirmed her worst fears. A bullet fired at a gas station near Fredricksburg, Va., just before 9:30 a.m. had struck Kenneth Bridges in the shoulder as he pumped gas. The shot penetrated vital organs, killing him.
"Everybody, when they hear the news that the sniper has hit again if you know you have children in school, if you know that you have family members down there you hope against hope that it's not you," FBI spokeswoman Linda Vizi said outside the family's three-story home Friday night.
The sniper has killed eight persons and wounded two in Maryland, Virginia and the District since Oct. 2, including Mr. Bridges, whose death was definitively linked to the others yesterday.
Mr. Bridges, 53, a father of six who co-founded a black self-help marketing and distribution organization, was remembered by stunned neighbors and friends as a friendly man who was active in the community.
At home, they would see him mowing the lawn, playing basketball with his children and walking with his wife.
"He would take those long walks with his wife. He would celebrate birthdays with his children. He was a very giving person. He was a gentle man," said Gary Shepherd, a family friend who spoke for about 20 people gathered outside the house in the Germantown section of northwest Philadelphia on Friday night.
"The family and friends are understandably shocked and saddened by this senseless event," Mr. Shepherd said. "While no family should have to endure this type of tragedy, the Bridges family hopes that his killer is brought to justice as quickly as possible."
Mr. Shepherd said the family would have no comment but asked anyone with information about the shooting to contact authorities. As he spoke, a steady stream of friends came and went at the house, which is largely hidden behind a high stone wall.
"He was the first person to welcome me when I moved into the neighborhood," said Estelle Staley, the family's next-door neighbor.
Mr. Bridges and a daughter brought cupcakes when she moved in about six years ago, she said.
The couple has two sons and four daughters, the youngest in their teens, Miss Vizi said.
"He was very friendly, very friendly," Miss Staley said. "I hope they hurry and catch that guy because it's terrible. He's doing a terrible thing."
Mr. Bridges graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He was president and chairman of the board of MATAH Network, an Oaklyn, N.J., organization formed in 1997 to encourage blacks to support black-owned businesses and to promote black self-sufficiency.
"It's a very difficult time. I don't think anybody thought this was going to affect us in Philadelphia," Miss Vizi said.
"You watch it on television, you read it in the newspaper, and then you find out that, sure enough, it's hit the city and devastated a family in our town," she said.


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