Ohio Judge Shoots Back, Fights Off Gunman in Ambush-Style Attack

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Judge Joseph J. Bruzzese Jr. (Photo: Larry George)

A judge in Ohio is in stable condition after being attacked by a gunman outside the Jefferson County Courthouse Monday morning.

Judge Joseph J. Bruzzese Jr. had arrived at the courthouse around 8 a.m. when he was ambushed and shot by a lone gunman, according to Jefferson County Sheriff Fred J. Abdalla. Bruzzese, who is described by his colleagues as an avid hunter and a “tough son of a gun,” drew his own weapon and returned fire. Abdalla said the suspect and Bruzzese each fired five shots at each other.

A nearby probation officer also opened fire on the suspect, so it isn’t clear whether Bruzzese was able to hit his target.

The suspect, who police later identified as Nathaniel Richmond, 51, collapsed not far from the scene and died from gunshot wounds.

“This individual laid in wait, for our judge, and … it just hurts. First thing on a Monday morning,” Abdalla said emotionally. “You have a judge shot in front of his courthouse, and that affected me… This was ambush and attempted murder on our judge.”

The chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, Maureen O’Connor, called the attack a “cowardly ambush” and urged court personnel, especially judges, to take extra precautions.

“Violence against judges represents an attack on the Rule of Law, the foundation of our country,” O’Connor said.

Investigators have not been able to determine a motive for the attack, but Richmond has appeared in court on numerous occasions, both on his own behalf and during a rape trial involving his son, Ma’lik Richmond.

Ma’lik and another high school football player were convicted in 2013 of raping a 16-year-old girl during an alcohol-fueled party in 2012. Ma’lik spent ten months in juvenile lockup and is now attending Youngstown State University, where he is a member of the football team, according to the Associated Press.

Investigators do not believe this incident motivated Monday’s attack.

“[There’s] no reason to believe there’s any connection between Ma’lik Richmond and his father’s actions today,” Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin said.

Hanlin noted that Richmond has appeared in Bruzzese’s courtroom on a number of occasions. The AP reported that Richmond was arrested on various domestic violence and assault charges several years ago, but it still isn’t clear whether any of these incidents motivated the attack.

Another individual had accompanied Richmond and was seated in the passenger seat of his car when the shooting took place. This individual, whose identity police have not revealed, claims he or she did not know what Richmond planned to do. Police are questioning this person, who is not considered a suspect at this time.

{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Daniel Braatz August 26, 2017, 6:18 pm

    I wonder if Judge Bruzzese was carrying a Taurus 5rd. revolver chambered in .410/.45. –not (really) trying to make light of the situation: I’m glad he’s OK & I’m glad the bad guy died; Play thug games; win thug prizes

  • Kb31416 August 26, 2017, 10:59 am

    The obvious question is why the convicted rapist is not in jail for his crime. A pitiful slap on the wrist for the rapist, which is a huge slap in the face to the victim.
    What a disgrace!

  • Mott Dorn August 26, 2017, 8:46 am

    WTH is wrong with people today! Glad the Judge was armed or the outcome would have been different.

  • ironhorseman August 25, 2017, 12:33 pm

    Anti-gun and anti-2A… take a good look at this incident…This could’ve been your dad or brother or grandfather…right !?
    Sit up and take notice…these lawless people in your community are creating the laws we have to stay in place for this exact reason….

  • kane August 25, 2017, 9:57 am

    “Ma’lik and another high school football player were convicted in 2013 of raping a 16-year-old girl during an alcohol-fueled party in 2012. Ma’lik spent ten months in juvenile lockup and is now attending Youngstown State University, where he is a member of the football team…”

    So his son got a slap on the wrist for a horrible crime and his criminal father targeted the judge. Got it.

    • The T August 25, 2017, 10:37 am

      “The AP reported that Richmond was arrested on various domestic violence and assault charges several years ago, but it still isn’t clear whether any of these incidents motivated the attack.” D U H!!!
      And to the press shooters and people who commit crimes are just suspects? Get real Media People.

      • davud August 25, 2017, 12:02 pm

        courts determine guilt. not cops, not the media.

        • Ben August 25, 2017, 10:36 pm

          I seem to recall a jury of peers (which may easily include anyone commenting here) is a part of the determination of guilt.

  • joefoam August 25, 2017, 8:40 am

    Do you think this judge supports 2A rights? I hope he talks to his peers!

  • Dr Motown August 25, 2017, 8:10 am

    Too bad Nathaniel Richmond wasn’t killed years ago, before producing worthless offspring like his rapist son…

  • Alfred Friend August 25, 2017, 7:35 am

    Just another example of how parts of our society believe that violence solves their problems. If you don’t like something or someone, just kill it or them. It makes no difference whether you are a judge, a police officer or whatever, protection of one’s self and family is a personal responsibility AND not to be taken lightly. Good for the judge that he understood that basic concept.

  • Eric Haulenbeek August 25, 2017, 5:56 am

    “Another individual had accompanied Richmond and was seated in the passenger seat of his car when the shooting took place. This individual, whose identity police have not revealed, claims he or she did not know what Richmond planned to do. Police are questioning this person, who is not considered a suspect at this time.”

    Yeah, right… claims he had no idea what his sleazy pal was up to. Like we all believe that one! I’m just glad to hear that the judge is in stable condition and that this story ended happily after all!

  • Leigh August 25, 2017, 5:28 am

    Convicted felon Nathaniel Richmond, died after the exchange of gunfire, was the father of Ma’lik Richmond, one of two Steubenville High School football players convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl at a party in 2012, according to The Associated Press.
    Bruzzese did not preside over Ma’lik Richmond’s case

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