Shooting reported at Ohio's Jefferson County Courthouse

Shooting reported at Jefferson County Courthouse. (WTOV)

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (WTOV) - Numerous police agencies are on scene at the Jefferson County Courthouse, where a shooting has been reported.

Steubenville City Manager James Mavromatis says Judge Joseph J. Bruzzese Jr. was ambushed and shot outside the courthouse. Bruzzese was taken to a Pittsburgh area hospital by medical helicopter. Mavromatis says Bruzzese was talking after the shots were fired and is said to be in stable condition.

Bruzzese's family is aware of the situation.

One suspect has died after being shot by a probation officer who returned fire.

“Shortly after 8 o'clock this morning, Judge Joseph A. Bruzzese Jr., who is a common pleas court judge in Jefferson County, Ohio, was ambushed by a man named Nathaniel Richmond," says Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin.

The alleged gunman is the father of Ma'lik Richmond, one of two young men found delinquent of rape in 2013. Hanlin wanted to make it clear there is no connection to the two incidents.

“There's absolutely no reason to believe that there is any connection, whatsoever, between Malik Richmond and the actions of his father today," said Hanlin, “this judge had nothing at all to do with that particular case. Ma'lik's case was handled by a visiting judge, who was not from this area, and he never appeared in Judge Bruzzese's common pleas courtroom for any reason at all."

A second suspect has been taken into custody after the shooting.

“We’re starting to put this whole picture together, but basically what you have is the judge is going to work, these subjects were waiting for him. He comes up, shoots at the judge. The judge returns fire,” Mavromatis said. “We also have a probation officer that was behind the judge. He returns fire as he is shot at. The subject is deceased that he shot at.

“This probation officer has done his job. He reacted to the threat, trying to save the judge and any other bystander that may have been in the area.”

Witnesses said they heard multiple gunshots.

"My alarm went off at 8 a.m., and I snoozed it, and a minute or two later, I heard approximately 7 or 8 gunshots, and I went to look out the window and I seen somebody in a white shirt, probably a detective, kneeling down firing at something, and that’s when I knew something happened down here," witness Cody Allison said.

Commissioners say the courthouse is shut down for the day. Employees are not permitted inside.

“There's people who were workers in the courthouse who witnessed this,” Jefferson County Commissioner Thomas Graham said. “A lot of people traumatized in light as to what occurred. Think that everybody needs a little time to settle down a little bit, get their thoughts together regarding this very tragic situation. Our prayers go out to Judge Bruzzese and his family.”

Additionally, traffic is closed off in the area of Market Street, though the Market Street Bridge remains open. Caution tape surrounds the left side of the courthouse.

Bruzzese has been a Jefferson County Common Pleas judge since 1996. His latest term lasts until February 2021.

Jefferson County Probate Juvenile Judge Joseph Corabi said he’s known Bruzzese for more than 50 years.

“He’s a really good man. He’s a tremendous judge. He has the respect of all of his peers. This is a senseless tragedy We hope that everything turns out of him. And let’s the judge credit because he’s a tough son of a gun. Apparently he got some shots back at him after he was hit, and that’s the character of all of the Bruzzeses. They’re good, tough people.”

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