Remembering MATAH co-founder Ken Bridges killed by the D.C. Snipers

Bridges’ entrepreneurial spirit lives on

By Chinta Strausberg


It was ten-years ago today that my good friend, Ken Bridges was killed by 17-year-old John Lee Malvo on the orders of John Allen Muhammad both of whom will be forever remembered as the “D.C. Snipers.” They snatched the life of a dear friend who not only inspired me but thousands across the nation and many countries beyond our borders.

Recently, Malvo said he is now having regrets about killing an FBN analyst. I wonder if he has any regrets when he killed one of my best friends, Ken, the co-founder of the MATAH program.  Does he think about Ken’s wife, Joycelyn and their six children? Ken was a loving husband and father. They adored, loved and respected each other so much, and Malvo allowed a grown man, John Allen Muhammad, to order him to kill human beings. Malvo needs to rot in prison and never taste the air of freedom again.

There is something mentally wrong with a person, any person who kills another human being. You have to be crazy to do that. We lost a good man in Bridges. He was the eighth victim (who died, some survived) to be killed by the D.C. Snipers.

Ken had just signed a $10 million contract with a nutmeg manufacturer for his MATAH product Internet Black product line. He was so happy, but one of the doctors at that meeting warned him not to stop at a nearby gas station because of the snipers. But because Ken loved his wife so much, he wanted to share the good news with his “queen,” so he called his wife. Ken was shot talking to Joycelyn on his cell phone as he pumped gas.

It was on a Friday, 10-years ago that my friend, Gaston Armour, called me at my City Hall desk with the bad news. Friday’s were supposed to be my days off, but I always worked a full day anyway. It will be one day I’ll never forget. It was the first time I ever cried at work.

Because of Gaston calling me with the bad news about Ken’s death, Chicago reporters had a leg up on that story because, while I didn’t know it, the FBI had refused to identify Ken to other media pending their investigation.

 I later called the FBI to confirm it, and an agent told me he could not identify the victim. When I told him Ken’s name and other data, he reluctantly confirmed Ken’s identity. The agent said to me, “Well, you can’t write the story.” I told him I had tow rite the story so he reluctantly confirmed Ken’s identity. By that time, t had become numb to the news my emotions focused on gathering facts for my story.

I’ll never forget Friday, October 11, 2002, which many of his friends equate to the infamous 9/11 of 2001. He meant that much to hundreds of people throughout the world. Many of us, I included, owned our own MATAH Internet store where African Americans could buy products made by blacks could sell their wares. It was a network of pride and a visual example of the power blacks can have with their dollar.

How I wish, how I pray that the violence will end in America especially the gun violence. America has its own domestic terrorists—gunrunners and gun users who are using human beings as target practice. Shame on them. Shame on America for not doing something to stop the guns from coming into our country or if the weapons of mass destruction are being made here then do something to stop the sale to people who use them to kill their fellow man and especially our children.

When I think of Ken Bridges and all that he meant to so many people, I want to cry all over again. God rest his soul. God protect his family, and may Lee Boyd Malvo burn in hell for what he did to not just Ken but to the families of the other victims. And, lastly, those who sold the guns to the pair should be jailed as well.

We need sane gun laws that will title each gun just like you title a car. That has been Father Michael Pfleger’s campaign for years. It is now catching on thanks to the Chicago Clergy Coalition (CCC), a diverse religious group, who plans on going to Springfield to please their case.

I only hope the Illinois General Assembly listens to their pleas and respect the petitions they are gathering in support of sensible gun legislation and passage of HB 5831, which would register all guns. They also want the General Assembly to reinstate the ban on assault weapons.


Name Age Status Date of Attack Location
James Martin 55 Killed October 2, 2002, 6:04 PM Wheaton, Maryland
James Buchanan 39 Killed October 3, 2002, 7:41 AM Rockville, Maryland
Premkumar Walekar 54 Killed October 3, 2002, 8:12 AM Aspen Hill, Maryland
Sarah Ramos 34 Killed October 3, 2002, 8:37 AM Silver Spring, Maryland
Lori Ann Lewis-Rivera 25 Killed October 3, 2002, 9:58 AM Kensington, Maryland
Pascal Charlot 72 Killed October 3, 2002, 9:20 PM Washington, D.C.
Caroline Seawell 43 Survived October 4, 2002, 2:30 PM Fredericksburg, Virginia
Iran Brown 13 Survived October 7, 2002, 8:09 AM Bowie, Maryland
Dean Harold Meyers 53 Killed October 9, 2002, 8:18 PM Manassas, Virginia
Kenneth Bridges 53 Killed October 11, 2002, 9:40 AM Fredericksburg, Virginia
Linda Franklin 47 Killed October 14, 2002, 9:19 PM Falls Church, Virginia
Jeffrey Hopper 37 Survived October 19, 2002, 8:00 PM Ashland, Virginia
Conrad Johnson 35 Killed October 22, 2002, 5:55 AM Aspen Hill, Maryland


Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: