Judge sets bond at $10 million for restaurant slaying suspect
By Janet Lundquist firstname.lastname@example.org August 5, 2013 3:30PM
Christopher L. Thompson
Updated: September 7, 2013 6:17AM
A man accused of opening fire in a busy Joliet restaurant on Saturday and killing a man in front of his family repeatedly told a Will County judge during his Monday bond hearing that he was a victim.
Will County Judge Roger Rickmon set bond at $10 million for Christopher L. Thompson, 31, of 712 S. Joliet St., whom prosecutors say walked into Louis’ restaurant, 1001 W. Jefferson St., Saturday morning and shot Gerardo Franchini, 29, of Joliet, multiple times at point blank range. Franchini, who was sitting with his wife and two daughters, ages 4 and 5, at the time, was taken to Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 12:13 p.m., according to the Will County Coroner’s Office.
Authorities have not offered a motive in the slaying, but Thompson has been charged with two counts of first degree murder.
During Monday’s hearing, Thompson did not specifically address the charges, but repeatedly referenced having been shot in the past. He did not mention Franchini.
“I’m a victim,” said Thompson, who was not shot during Saturday’s incident. “I’m the one who got shot.”
Rickmon cautioned Thompson to remain silent, but Thompson interrupted Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Fitzgerald several more times as Fitzgerald explained the background for the charges.
Franchini’s wife told police that Thompson confronted her husband in the restaurant, then left, Fitzgerald said. Thompson returned 20 minutes later, walked up to Franchini and shot him numerous times in his head and body.
“I’m scared. I got shot nine times,” Thompson interjected.
Authorities say that on Jan. 22, 2005, Thompson was shot by an unknown gunman while he stood in the driveway of his home. He since recovered from the life-threatening injuries.
After Saturday’s shooting, Thompson, whom authorities say has gone by the street name “Little” fled the scene, but he was identified by witnesses in a photo lineup, Fitzgerald said.
“That’s not a street name, sir,” Thompson said.
Police arrested Thompson on Saturday afternoon at a residence in the 2300 Block of Carnation in Crest Hill, where his girlfriend allegedly lived, Fitzgerald said.
“No, sir, I called the police there,” Thompson said, interrupting Fitzgerald. “I called them.”
Police found two handguns — one a .45 caliber, the same caliber as the casings picked up in the restaurant — stashed in a ceiling vent in the house, Fitzgerald said
A woman who accompanied Thompson to the restaurant Saturday told police they went there for breakfast, and when they left, Thompson was “very angry,” Fitzgerald said.
One police investigator, who asked not to be identified, said detectives have learned of several previous altercations between the two men.
Fitzgerald would not comment on Thompson’s motive. But Thompson said that he “would never be around handguns in my life.”
A small group of people who attended the bond hearing, including a woman who said she was Thompson’s sister, declined to comment.
Louis’ restaurant owner Louis Polimenakos said he did business as usual Monday, thanks to a crowd of regulars with courage.
“My people love me,” he said, profusely thanking his customers for supporting his business even after the shooting.
Some of his customers even called him Sunday to say they would be there Monday, as usual, he said.
“I appreciate them, from the bottom of my heart,” Polimenakos said. “People gave me hugs. It helps tremendously.”
Thompson and Franchini were not regulars at Louis’, according to Louis’ staff.
Polimenakos said he didn’t get a good look at the men Saturday because the shooter was wearing a mask and Franchini was covered up quickly by responders after the shooting.
He said he didn’t hear what the men argued about, either.
Mostly, Polimenakos would like the shooting in his restaurant to be forgotten.
“I have 21 years of work over here. I work like a dog,” Polimenakos said. “It’s not fair for me to have one crazy guy destroy it. One hundred percent, I guarantee, I’ll be here.”
One of his waitresses, who did not want to be identified, said over the weekend that she comforted the girls who were sitting with their father.
“I was holding them and both kids were shaking,” she said.
Thompson has previous convictions for aggravated unlawful use of a weapon in 2002 and possession of a firearm in 1999.
Franchini had several run-ins with the law, including one in April 2011, when Franchini and his cousin Reynaldo M. Franchini were arrested after a long-term investigation by the Joliet Narcotics Unit into drug dealing, according to reports.
Franchini reportedly was holding eight bags containing 38 grams of cocaine when police raided a house at 519 Abe St. with a search warrant.
In January 2007, Gerardo Franchini was on parole for drug and weapons charges when he was arrested for the murder of Brenda Greenwood, 24.
He was acquitted of the charges after a Will County jury trial.
Police said early on New Year’s Day 2007, Franchini and Jaime Casillas broke into Greenwood’s home in the 200 block of Lincoln Street.
According to reports, Greenwood, her boyfriend, Merced Costilla, and Greenwood’s then 1-year-old daughter were awakened by the noise and confronted the intruders who shot all three of them.
Costilla fled the house and was found bleeding in the street by police officers.
Casillas, who is the father of Greenwood’s daughter, was arrested hours after the incident. Franchini, a friend of Casillas, was identified as the other suspect and arranged to surrender to police in a Crest Hill parking lot four days later.
The two men were brought to trial in August 2008, but found not guilty when Costilla was unable to identify which suspect pulled the trigger, according to reports.
Contributing: Cindy Cain
and Brian Stanley