Ohio Judge Shot Outside Courthouse in Ambush-Style Attack

Judge Joseph J. Bruzzese Jr.

An Ohio judge is in stable condition after being shot in an ambush-style attack on his way into a courthouse on Monday morning, officials said.

Judge Joseph J. Bruzzese Jr. was just arriving for work at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Steubenville at around 8 a.m. when he was ambushed, according to Jefferson County Sheriff Fred J. Abdalla.

And officials said the suspect is — perhaps simply coincidentally — connected to another high-profile Ohio case from a few years ago.

Police named Nathaniel Richmond, 51 — the father of Ma’lik Richmond, one of two teenage high school football stars from Steubenville, Ohio, convicted in 2013 of raping a 16-year-old girl — as the shooter in the ambush. Bruzzese had nothing to do with that case, officials said.

But the judge was not defenseless. The armed Bruzzese returned fire with his own weapon, according to police.

Ma’lik Richmond stands with his father after he was convicted last March.
Keith Srakocic / AP

A probation officer, who was behind Bruzzese, also fired at Richmond.

Abdalla said five shots were fired by Richmond and five shots were fired by Bruzzese. It’s unclear how many shots the probation officer fired, but Richmond eventually died from his wounds.

Bruzzese was walking through a narrow alley toward the courthouse when the shots were fired, City Manager James Mavromatis said.

In a press conference, Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin said officials there was no connection between Ma’lik Richmond’s rape case and Monday’s shooting.

But Hanlin said there were a “number of cases” involving the elder Richmond, who had a criminal history, in Bruzzese’s courtroom as well as other courtrooms. However, Hanlin said officials have not yet determined a motive in the shooting.

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SOURCE: NBC News, Kalhan Rosenblatt