Cache of weapons revealed in charges

URBANA — An Indiana man who allegedly had two bombs, a machine gun and his son in a truck in Rantoul on Wednesday has been criminally charged.

Jeremiah Bridges, who turned 39 Thursday, of Greencastle, was arraigned Friday on two counts of unlawful use of weapons alleging that he had a machine gun or similar firearm and a bomb or shell containing more than a quarter ounce of an explosive substance. Those counts are Class 2 and 3 felonies, respectively.

He was also charged with endangering the life or health of a child for allegedly leaving his 12-year-old son in the passenger compartment of the truck while there were loaded guns in it. That crime is a Class A misdemeanor.

A clearly fidgety Bridges indicated to Judge John Kennedy that he understood the charges.

To assist Kennedy in setting bond, Assistant State’s Attorney Toby Ortega laid out the cursory facts of Bridges’ arrest.

About 8:40 a.m. Wednesday, Rantoul police were called to a business on North Century Boulevard for a report of a child unattended in a truck. They found Bridges’ son and a dog inside the truck in the parking lot.

The son told police he hadn’t seen his dad since 2 a.m. and that the two of them were homeless since a fire destroyed their home in Indiana. They were living out of the truck.

Inside the truck, police found two loaded pistols, one of which appeared to have a silencer, a loaded assault-style rifle, a machine gun, ammunition, a U.S. Army “improvised munitions handbook,” an explosive device, a bottle of black powder and body armor.

In an exterior compartment of the truck, Ortega said, police found a second device with a fuse attached that was later confirmed to contain an explosive compound.

When Bridges was found by Rantoul police, he admitted he had parked the truck in the business lot on Tuesday evening and that he woke his son about 2 a.m. Wednesday to tell him he was going for a walk.

He then told police he could not remember what he had done until he woke up later in a storm sewer.

Police recovered some of his clothing from a storm sewer.

Bridges denied that one of the pistols had a silencer, telling them it was only a piece of plastic pipe attached to the end.

He also denied that the assault rifle was set up as fully automatic.

He said the machine gun was functional and that he had fired it. He said he bought it at a gun show in Calumet City for $4,000.

He admitted making the pipe bombs and said he intended to bury them or take them to the desert to blow them up.

Assistant Public Defender Benjamin Dyer said Bridges is employed as a welder at a union shop in Indiana and has seasonal work. He also cares for his son, Dyer said, and asked that he be allowed to return to Indiana.

Kennedy denied that request and set Bridges’ bond at $750,000 and set his next court date on Aug. 22.

Bridges’ only reply to the judge was to clarify the bond amount and to ask what city he was supposed to appear in.

Court records show Bridges had prior traffic tickets from 2003 and 2008 in Champaign County.


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