Guilt appears to have been too overwhelming for a Michigan college teacher who turned himself in Thursday four decades after allegedly shooting at cops in a South San Francisco credit card fraud case that became violent.
Ronald Stanley Bridgeforth, 67, said he was ready to fess up to the 1968 shooting.
“He wanted to show his sons a model of a man who takes responsibility for the wrong things he did,” said Paul Harris, Bridgeforth’s attorney.
Bridgeforth also has been accused of being a member of the militant Black Liberation Army — an offshoot of the Black Panthers who are alleged to have carried out the 1971 murder of San Francisco police Sgt. John Young, along with the killing of New York City cops, bank robberies and an attempted bombing of a police station.
Harris denied his client was ever a member of the group, but said Bridgeforth was ready to admit to firing at officers who responded to a South San Francisco White Front department store Nov. 5, 1968, on a report of credit card fraud.
Bridgeforth had been a lifelong civil rights activist who espoused nonviolence, Harris said, and the South San Francisco shooting “was an aberration in the arc of his life.”
He had recently been teaching under an assumed name at a community college in Michigan, where he lives with his family, Harris said. Bridgeforth denied any role in the Young shooting.
The California Attorney General’s Office, which revived the Young case in 2007, said Thursday it would no longer seek charges against Bridgeforth.
Charges had already been dismissed against six other men, and another two — including Young’s suspected shooter — had pleaded no contest to lesser charges.
In the South City case, Bridgeforth allegedly fired at a police car and was shot in the heel by a cop, according to Harris. He and the two other men — who also were later accused in the Young case — were arrested. No officers were injured.
According to San Mateo County prosecutor Karen Guidotti, Bridgeforth pleaded no contest in 1969 to assault with a firearm on a police officer, but disappeared before sentencing.
Bridgeforth was ordered held on $25,000 bail Thursday and could face five years in prison, Guidotti said. A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 22.