Two weeks ago we told you about Ronald Stanley Bridgeforth, who emerged out of hiding to turn himself in to San Mateo County authorities in a shooting case dating back to 1968 that left no one except himself injured. Bridgeforth had jumped bail after being arrested shortly after the crime because he feared, given the indeterminate sentencing practices of the day, that he could sit in prison for the rest of his life for an irresponsible mistake. Today the Chron has Bridgeforth's whole story, as he tells it, and describes how he came forward after Googling his name to find that he was on the FBI's Most Wanted list for the 1971 murder of a policeman in San Francisco, a crime which he says he did not commit.
In the '68 incident, Bridgeforth claims and we're taking this with a grain of salt that he was "trying to buy toys and clothing for kids in the community with a stolen credit card" at the White Front discount store in South San Francisco. Police arrived, and Bridgeforth pulled out a handgun. He managed to get out of the store and into a waiting car, but then he and two accomplices were confronted with another cop car blocking their way. Bridgeforth shot at the car, hitting no one, and in the ensuing chaos the getaway car crashed and Bridgeforth got shot in the foot.
Authorities had connected Bridgeforth to the Black Liberation Army, an especially violent and militant off-shoot of the Black Panthers whose members were responsible for the '71 murder, but Bridgeforth denies ever being a member of the organization though he admits he was "impressed by the Black Panther Party's rhetoric and community programming efforts at the time." After jumping bail in the '68 case, he disappeared to Senegal, after which he returned to the Bay Area in 1971 where he was almost arrested in an incident he won't be totally clear about, but was released before cops identified him as a wanted man. That was when he moved across the country, ultimately marrying and settling in Michigan with his wife under the assumed name Cole Jordan his wife has long known about his wanted status, but his sons, now in their 30s, did not know until recently.
Bridgeforth had to sever ties with his family in order to live on the lam, and he was relieved to discover, via an internet search, that his 81-year-old mother remains alive. We remain curious to see if San Francisco authorities clear him of the '71 murder charges, and where in the range of 1 to 15 years his sentence from San Mateo County will be.