The man who shot an Ohio county judge outside a courthouse Monday morning before being fatally shot by police himself was the father of a Steubenville High School football player who was convicted of rape in 2013, authorities said Monday.
Jefferson County Judge Joseph Bruzzese Jr., 65, was shot Monday morning when he was “ambushed” while walking toward the county courthouse in Steubenville, along the Ohio River roughly 30 miles west of Pittsburgh, WTOV reported.
“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 them. He comes up, shoots at the judge. The judge returns fire,” Steubenville City Manager James Mavromatis told the news station.
Witnesses said they heard gunshots just after 8 a.m.
“My alarm went off at 8 a.m., and I snoozed it, and a minute or two later, I heard approximately seven or eight 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,” Cody Allison, who lived nearby, told WTOV.
Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said courthouse video shows Bruzzese firing about five shots at the gunman, who was then fatally shot by a probation officer.
The suspect was shot and killed when a probation officer at the scene returned fire. A second suspect, who was in a car with the accused shooter, was taken into custody shortly after the incident.
No further information was released on the suspect and the courthouse was closed shortly after the incident. Ohio Gov. John Kasich said he’s been told Judge Bruzzese is expected to survive.
Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor said the attack is a reminder of the real potential for violence against judges, and urged court employees to take extra precautions in both personal and professional activites. She added that violence against judges is an attack on the rule of law.
Steubenville police requested help from Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation who joined in on the case, Attorney General Mike DeWine said.
Bruzzese is one of the two judges serving in Jefferson County Common Pleas Court and hears general and domestic relations cases. 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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.