Ohio judge Joseph Bruzzese was shot and injured in an ambush-style attack on his way to the courthouse early Monday morning. After being shot he still managed to return fire with his own handgun before the suspect was shot dead by an armed probation officer nearby.
“This was ambush or attempted murder on our judge,” Sheriff Fred J. Abdalla said in an interview with reporters that was broadcast live on WTOV-TV television.
According to the New York Times:
The shooting took place just after 8 a.m. at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Steubenville when Judge Joseph J. Bruzzese Jr. was walking toward the building, the city manager, James Mavromatis, told a news conference.
Two suspects were waiting for the judge in a car at a bank parking lot. One of the men got out of the car and opened fire, hitting the judge, Mr. Mavromatis said in a news conference.
The judge returned fire, and a probation officer nearby also opened fire at the attacker, killing the man, Mr. Mavromatis said. The other suspect was taken into custody.
Witnesses said they heard about seven or eight gunshots.
“It just hurts,” Sheriff Abdalla said. “First thing on a Monday morning — you have a judge shot in front of his courthouse. And that affected me.”
The judge was airlifted to a hospital in Pittsburgh in stable condition and was expected to survive.
“Apparently it was a basic ambush on our judge,” Mr. Mavromatis said. “The judge does return fire,” he said. “We have three weapons that may have been involved here.”
He added that the motive was not immediately clear, but that officials believed the judge to be the intended target. Mr. Mavromatis said that security camera footage extracted from courthouse cameras shows the gunman directly approaching the judge.
Both suspects, whose names have not been released, have criminal records with prison time, but Mr. Mavromatis did not immediately have details about those records.
Representative Bill Johnson, a Republican representing Ohio’s Sixth District, said in a statement that he was “very saddened” to hear about the shooting, and said that he had worked with Judge Bruzzese on housing issues. “I know he is committed to the people he serves,” he said.
“Public service shouldn’t be a dangerous occupation, but it all too often is,” he added.“