STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (AP/WTRF) — The suspected shooter of an Ohio judge is the father of Youngstown State University football player Ma’lik Richmond, according to investigators.
Richmond was found delinquent of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old unconscious girl when he was a football player at Steubenville High School. There have been protests regarding his eligibility to play at YSU.
WTRF reports that the shooting had nothing to do with the rape case against Ma’lik. The suspect, Nathaniel Richmond, has reportedly been in the Jefferson County court many times and has a criminal history.
According to officials, Richmond pulled up to the scene at 7:13 a.m., then left and came back, waiting to ambush Jefferson County Judge Joseph Bruzzese, Jr.
Sheriff Fred Abdalla said Richmond then ran toward Judge Bruzzese and got him on the ground, trying to shoot him.
The Associated Press reports that Bruzzese managed to fire back before a probation officer stepped in and ultimately killed Richmond, authorities said. Courthouse video shows both the judge and the gunman firing about five times each, said Sheriff Abdalla.
Prosecutor Jane Hanlin credited the probation officer with likely saving Judge Bruzzese’s life.
Records show Bruzzese was overseeing a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by Richmond.
Court records show Richmond filed the lawsuit against the Jefferson County Metropolitan Housing Authority in April. Bruzzese was overseeing the case.
A hearing on a motion by the housing authority to dismiss punitive damages claims was set for Aug. 28.
Bruzzese underwent emergency surgery after the shooting and is expected to survive.
Colleague Judge Joseph Corabi said Bruzzese is known as an avid hunter. He called him fair, hardworking, well-liked, and “a tough son of a gun.”
“He is very intelligent and he can cut to the chase,” Corabi said. “He spots issues and he resolves the issues.”
Bruzzese, 65, hears general and domestic relations cases as one of two judges serving in Jefferson County Common Pleas Court.
He has served on that court since 1997, according to Ohio Supreme Court records. He was most recently re-elected in 2014 for another six-year term.
Bruzzese had likely arrived early to review his usual Monday morning batch of legal motions, Corabi said.
The courthouse was closed for the day as local and state authorities helped secure the scene. Jefferson County Commissioner Thomas Graham told WTOV that some courthouse workers witnessed the “tragic situation” and that people would need time to process what had happened.
The state crime lab will help investigate the shooting, said Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine.
The chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court called the attack a “cowardly ambush” and urged court personnel — especially judges — to take extra precautions.
The attack “reminds us all of the very real potential for violence against judges,” Maureen O’Connor said. “Violence against judges represents an attack on the Rule of Law, the foundation of our country.”
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