Man fatally shot by Bridgeview cop was Iraq War vet who murdered wife in 2010

Joseph Jesk, 32, allegedly pointed a gun at the officer after Jesk rear-ended the squad car, officials said.

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Joseph Jesk

Joseph Jesk

Illinois Department of Corrections

The man fatally shot by a police officer in the southwest suburbs Tuesday night was an Iraq War veteran who pleaded guilty to murdering his wife nearly 10 years ago.

About 7 p.m. Tuesday, police were called to a Walmart store near 103rd Street and Harlem Avenue for a report of shoplifting, according to Bridgeview police spokesman Ray Hanania.

Once there, an officer took a woman — the girlfriend of Joseph Jesk, 32 — into custody and put her in a squad car. The officer started to drive away and Jesk got into his vehicle and rear-ended the squad car, Hanania said. Both men got out of their vehicles and Jesk pointed a gun at the officer, who drew his weapon and fired twice, fatally wounding Jesk.

An autopsy found he died of multiple gunshot wounds and his death was ruled a homicide, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Jesk’s weapon turned out to be a BB gun, Hanania said. Jesk’s family could not be reached Wednesday morning.

In December 2011, Jesk pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for fatally shooting his wife in their Oak Lawn home in February 2010. The couple had two young children together, though neither were home at the time of the shooting.

A month before the shooting, Jesk had returned home from an 11-month tour in Iraq as a heavy artillery officer in the Army, the Sun-Times reported at the time.

“Joe had had some problems coming back to normal life after being in Iraq and serving,” his defense attorney, Michael Clancy, said at the time. “It made for a pretty stressful home life, and he and his wife were having some issues.”

Clancy did not return a message seeking comment Wednesday.

Though he was sentenced to 17 years in prison, he was out by January 2018. It was that month that he was arrested on a meth possession charge in southwest suburban Palos Heights, court records show. He was sentenced to two years in prison, but — with credit for time served in jail — he was paroled in November 2018.

Court records show Jesk’s legal troubles had continued until his death.

On Sept. 23, a judge approved an arrest warrant for Jesk after he didn’t show up to court on retail theft and drug paraphernalia possession charges. Police said he stole more than $700 worth of merchandise from a Home Depot in Oak Lawn the month before.

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