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Man Shot And Killed By Police In Bridgeview Identified As Iraq Veteran Who Pleaded Guilty To 2010 Murder Of His Wife

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (CBS) -- The man who was shot and killed by police in Bridgeview on Tuesday has been identified as a U.S. Army veteran who pleaded guilty to killing his wife in 2010, a month after returning from the war in Iraq.

As CBS 2's Chris Tye reported, 32-year-old Joseph Jesk's girlfriend was the one who was arrested for shoplifting on Tuesday evening. But it was Jesk who ended up being shot and killed by police in front of a grocery store on the boundary of Bridgeview and Palos Hills.

Joseph Jesk 2018 Booking Photo
Joseph Jesk (Source: Cook County Sheriff)

Jesk survived the front line of war overseas, and survived years in prison for a murder he admitted to – though was released early.

Those who knew Jesk a decade ago said he had a hard time returning in January 2010 from 11 months as a heavy artillery officer with the U.S. Army and a tour of duty in Iraq. He came home to his wife and two kids.

Back in 2010, Heather Jesk's MySpace page showed a young family that could never have seen it coming. On Feb. 27 of that year, Joseph Jesk shot and killed Heather in their home in Oak Lawn.

The couple had been quarreling after attending a fundraiser with other relatives. Prosecutors said at the time that one of the guests followed the guests downstairs around 10:40 p.m. that night and saw Jesk holding a handgun. The relative ran back upstairs in fear for his safety.

Meanwhile, Jesk fired at his wife's forehead and left her in a pool of blood, prosecutors said at the time. The couple's daughters – then ages 11 months and 2 years – were not home at the time, prosecutors said.

After the incident, Jesk called 911 telling police he'd "killed the only person he'd ever loved," authorities said. He and Heather had been dating since high school, his defense attorney said at the time of his sentencing.

Jesk was found with a folding knife near the Oak Lawn Metra station on 95th Street and was arrested, prosecutors said at the time.

Jesk went on to plead guilty to second-degree murder. In December 2011, he was sentenced to 17 years in prison, but served half that before he was released in January 2018.

After his parole on the murder charge, he was arrested on a meth possession charge, and sentenced to two years in prison, but was paroled in November 2018, according to Illinois Department of Corrections records.

A warrant was issued for his arrest last week, when he failed to appear in court on a retail theft and drug paraphernalia possession case.

Around 7 p.m. Tuesday, police were called to the Walmart store near 103rd and Harlem in Bridgeview, for a report of a shoplifting. When officers arrived, they arrested Jesk's new girlfriend, and police said Jesk then started "verbally abusing" the officer.

Bridgeview police said the officer started driving away, and Jesk got back into his own car and rear-ended the squad car in the nearby parking lot of the Pete's Fresh Market.

The officer then stopped and got out of his car. Jesk also got out, pulled out a gun, and pointed it at the officer, officials said.

The officer in turn pulled his weapon and shot Jesk, who was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he died shortly after 11 p.m., officials said.

Jesk's gun turned out to be a BB gun. The officer was not injured.

The Illinois State Police Public Integrity Task Force launched an investigation into the officer's use of force, which is normal protocol for police-involved shootings in the suburbs.

The officer is expected to be placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure in police-involved shootings.

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