Man charged in fatal shooting at Joliet restaurant
By CINDY WOJDYLA AND BRIAN STANLEY Sun-Times Media firstname.lastname@example.org August 3, 2013 8:20PM
A Joliet police officer exits Louis' Family Restaurant during an investigation Saturday into a shooting at the near west side diner. | Cindy Cain~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 4, 2013 11:23AM
A man was killed Saturday morning after another man opened fire in a packed Joliet restaurant as he sat with his wife and two young daughters.
The victim, Gerardo Franchini, 29, of Joliet, was in Louis’ Family Restaurant when the shooting occurred about 9:30 a.m., police said. He 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. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday.
The shooter fled the scene, but he was identified by witnesses and police arrested Christopher L. Thompson, of Joliet, Saturday afternoon at a residence in the 2300 Block of Carnation in Crest Hill, said police Cmdr. Brian Benton. Officers surrounded the residence and were able to persuade Thompson to surrender without further incident, Benton said.
The 31-year-old Thompson has been charged with the murder.
Restaurant owner Louis Polimenakos said a man and a woman were sitting in the front part of the restaurant while Franchini, his wife and two daughters were sitting in the back part of the restaurant. The two men saw each other and they argued. The first man and woman left the restaurant, but 10 to 15 minutes later, that man returned, walked through the restaurant to the back and fired several shots at point blank range, Benton said.
One police investigator, who asked not to be identified, said detectives have learned of several previous altercations between the two men.
Polimenakos, who thought someone was breaking the restaurant’s windows at first when the bullets were fired, said he has never had a shooting or even a fight in his restaurant in the 21 years it has been open in the Jefferson Plaza on the city’s near west side.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said.
He said paramedics checked several customers who were in the restaurant at the time. They were not wounded, but they were shaken up pretty badly, he said.
“That’s a big shock for them,” he said.
One of his waitresses, who did not want to be identified, said she comforted the girls who were sitting with their father.
“I was holding them and both kids were shaking,” she said.
Polimenakos said his restaurant would be closed on Saturday while it was cleaned, but he planned to reopen on Sunday.
On Jan. 22, 2005, Thompson was in the driveway of his home when he was shot several times. Police said Thompson was attacked by an unknown gunman and suffered life-threatening injuries. His grandfather witnessed the incident, according to reports.
Jail records show Thompson was arrested by Joliet police Sept. 12, 2009, on a charge of carjacking.
In April 2011, Franchini and his brother Reynaldo M. Franchini, were arrested after a long-term investigation by the Joliet Narcotics Unit into drug dealing from their home, according to reports.
Franchini was reportedly holding eight bags containing 38 grams of cocaine when police raided his house, 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.
Police said early on New Year’s Day 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.