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Man said he felt ‘threatened' before opening fire on ex-wife

1-4-2010 **** ABC7 **** Handout of Melissa Bridgewater, killed early Friday, Jan. 1, 2010 at the Double Tree Hotel, in Oak Brook. **** MANDATORY CREDIT: ABC7 ****

Jerry L. Hudson said he grabbed a gun out of his coat pocket and shot at his ex-wife because he felt threatened after she swore at him and reached for a “black object” in her car.

“I closed my eyes and squeezed the trigger,” Hudson on Friday told a DuPage County jury hearing his murder trial.

Despite his closed eyes, all six shots Hudson fired through the closed car window struck 45-year-old Melissa Bridgewater as she sat in her silver Acura outside an Oak Brook hotel, prosecutors have said.

Two shots hit his former wife in the head and Hudson – who testified he’d never fired a gun before – broke down sobbing in the Wheaton courtroom when shown a photo by prosecutors of her head wounds.

But he was calm earlier when he insisted that he gunned down his unarmed ex-wife in self-defense early on Jan. 1, 2010.

During a heated phone call an hour before the 6:20 a.m. shooting, Bridgewater threatened him, telling him she had a gun and wasn’t “afraid to use it,” Hudson testified.

He acknowledged that just before the shooting, he “bumped” her car with his rental sedan as she tried to leave the hotel parking lot, then jumped out to try to talk to her.

Bridgewater laughed at him, then said: “I have something for you, motherf—–r,” Hudson said.

She reached for an object sitting near the center console of her car, and Hudson said he thought it was a gun.

“After she said what she said, I felt threatened,” said Hudson, a 51-year-old self-employed former trucker, telling jurors he instinctively reached into his coat pocket and found his own handgun.

“I went in my pocket, pulled a gun, closed my eyes and pulled the trigger,” Hudson said. “I was scared.”

He said he didn’t check on Bridgewater after the shooting, but jumped in his car and drove off.

“I was panicked,” he said.

No handgun was found in Bridgewater’s car after the shooting.

Hudson said he threw his gun into a south suburban canal, then left his rental car on Chicago’s South Side near the home of a friend.

He surrendered to police four days later after hiring a lawyer, he said.

Prosecutors have contended Hudson killed his wife because he was enraged she had spurned a recent effort to reconcile and was spending New Year’s Eve with a new boyfriend.

Jurors could begin deliberating Friday afternoon.