Judge Shot By Father of Convicted Rapist
Judge Joseph Bruzzese Jr. was walking to his car outside the Jefferson County Courthouse on Monday along Courthouse Alley in Steubenville, Ohio, when he was unexpectedly shot. The gunman was identified as Nathaniel Richmond, father of Ma’Lik Richmond. Ma’Lik served just under ten months of a one year sentence in a juvenile detention center along with an accomplice for raping an unconscious 16-year-old girl at a party.
Jane Hanlin, prosecutor for Jefferson County, identified Richmond as the shooter. She said she did not believe there was “any connection whatsoever” between Ma’lik and the shooting his father instigated. As far as Bruzzese’s involvement in Ma’Lik’s sentence, Hanlin said he had “nothing at all to do with that particular case.” Hanlin stated, “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.”
“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,” Steubenville City Manager James 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.”
“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 saw 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.
“This probation officer has done his job,” he continued. “He reacted to the threat, trying to save the judge and any other bystander that may have been in the area.”
Courthouse videos show the vehicle belonging to the Ma’Lik’s vengeful father parked in Huntington Bank across from Court Street around 7:12 a.m. The vehicle leaves, then returns a bit later in wait.
“This individual laid in wait for our judge,” Sheriff Fred J. Abdalla said, tearing up. It just hurts. First thing on Monday morning, you have a judge shot in front of his courthouse. This was an ambush and an attempted murder on our judge.” Abdalla added, “With all the nuts running around, I encouraged him to get a weapon. And he did.” There was a second individual in the vehicle with Richmond, but this person is not considered an accomplice, according to Abdalla.
Judge Bruzzese is out of surgery and in stable condition at a Pittsburgh hospital. A full recovery is expected. “If any judge could do it, it is him,” Abdalla said. “There are so many nuts running around seeking retaliation.” Bruzzese has been a Jefferson County Common Pleas judge since 1996. His latest term lasts until February 2021.