What led to Nathaniel Richmond trying to ambush murder Ohio Judge Joseph Bruzzesse Jr? Suspect was father of convicted Steubenville rape defendant.
Judge Joseph Bruzzesse Jr has survived an attempt on his life as the 65 year old Ohio judge made his way into a local courtroom Monday morning. The incident led to a suspect, since identified as Nathaniel Richmond being shot dead after the judge fired back as many as five rounds upon being shot at.
CBS Pittsburgh reports along with Richmond being killed another individual being taken into custody. Joseph Bruzzesse Jr who also incurred injuries in the shooting is expected to survive after being airlifted to hospital and operated on.
The incident happened outside of the Jefferson County Courthouse around 8 a.m. along the Ohio River in Steubenville, roughly 30 miles west of Pittsburgh, according to WTRF-TV.
Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla says courthouse video shows Joseph Bruzzese firing about five shots at the gunman, who also fired about five shots.
Nevertheless confusion remains as to how the killed suspect came to die, with claims an accompanying probation officer was with the judge at the time of the attack, returning fire and killed the suspect. That said it is understood the judge was armed, with the lawman’s weapon found on the ground next to him. It is not known if he was able to get any shots off.
City Manager says the deceased shooter is a convicted felon. They are waiting to release his identity until his next of kin is notified. pic.twitter.com/crDbNQfcEg
— Julie Grant (@JulieGrantEsq) August 21, 2017
Authorities have since told that they were familiar with one of the suspects and are now checking to see what if any connections the two men may have had with Bruzzese.
According to AP, Richmond was the father of Ma’lik Richmond, a Steubenville High School football player who was convicted in the rape of a 16 year old girl in 2012. Authorities aren’t aware of a connection between the rape case and the shooting. That said, it is understood, Richmond had a criminal record.
While Bruzzese didn’t oversee trial for the Aug. 11, 2012 Steubenville High School rape case that gained national attention, the Ohio judge had asked an outside judge be appointed to convene the grand jury due to unproven allegations of a school cover-up.
Ma’lik Richmond, who was 16 at the time of the incident, served nearly 10-months of a year-long sentence in juvenile detention after being convicted of raping a minor in March 2013.
Recently, he was given the opportunity to become a member of the football team at Youngstown State University, prompting backlash reported the nypost.
Youngstown State announced on August 10 that Ma’Lik would not be playing football this season after a student recently launched a petition calling for his removal from the team, citing his rape conviction. Nevertheless the student continued to participate in practice.
At the time of the guilty verdict being rendered against his son, Nathaniel told via cnn having told his son to be ‘patient’ and to put his faith in God.
The father went on to admit that the court case had been the first time he had ever told his son Ma’lik that he ‘loved him’.
Of note, at the time of the shooting, Bruzzese was exiting in an alleyway by the courthouse when Richmond ran up and began shooting at the judge as he approached the courthouse.
The shooting led to a fellow judge saying the attack on Judge Bruzzese ‘had to be intentional’ because people know about the reserved spots for the judges next to the alleyway.
The suspect’s body could be seen lying next to a car at a neighboring bank drive-thru. Police say a man who was in a car with the suspected shooter was taken into custody.
A subsequent report via yourohiovalley told of Richmond having a passenger with him in the car, who reportedly knew nothing about the suspected shooter’s plans. Richmond according to the passenger said that he had to appear in court.
Bruzzese is one of two judges listed in the Court of Common Pleas for the Jefferson County, Ohio courthouse. ‘Jurisdiction includes all civil matters exceeding $500.00, domestic-divorces and dissolution cases, and criminal felonies,’ the court website reads.
In the aftermath of the shooting, Jane Hanlin, prosecutor for Jefferson County said authorities didn’t believe there was ‘any connection whatsoever’ between Richmond’s son and the shooting earlier on Monday.
That said, Hanlin did note Richmond having appeared in Bruzzese’s courtroom in the past, as well as before other judges.
The shooting has led to commentators on the web speculating Judge Bruzzese was likely acutely aware of the dangers of his judicial role and had made a habit of arming himself. That said, it wasn’t necessarily known if there had been a recent case or upcoming case that may have put the office of Judge Bruzzese on heightened alert? And how that may have involved Richmond?
During remarks to reporters Monday afternoon, Jefferson County Sheriff Fred J. Abdalla described Bruzzese as an avid hunter and sportsman. The sheriff said that years earlier, he had urged Bruzzese to carry a weapon with him for protection due to all of the ‘nutcases’ around the country.
According to City Manager Mavromatis, Judge Bruzzese is out of surgery and is doing well.
The courthouse was closed for the remainder of the day as investigations continues.
BREAKING: Deceased suspect in ambush shooting of judge is Nathaniel Richmond, father of Ma’Lik Richmond, prosecutor says. pic.twitter.com/oENA8PdNmd
— Julian Routh (@julianrouth) August 21, 2017
— MURTWITNESSONE (@MURTWITNESSONE) August 21, 2017