A judge in Steubenville, OH stepped outside of the courthouse a little after 8:00 yesterday morning. It doesn’t matter why. What matters is that he was walking around armed, and it was a good thing, too.
Steubenville City Manager James Mavromatis said that Judge Joseph J. Bruzzese Jr. was shot as he walked just outside the courthouse shortly after 8 a.m. The judge was armed and returned fire, firing at least five shots, according to Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla. A probation officer fired an unknown number of shots. And the suspect fired five shots.
The Steubenville police and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s department are investigating.
The suspect was hit three times by gunfire, the sheriff said.
If the name “Steubenville” sounds familiar, there’s a good reason why.
The suspect was identified as Nathaniel “Nate” Richmond, father of former high school football player Ma’Lik Richmond who was convicted of rape in the now infamous Steubenville Rape Case.
The younger Richmond had served his time, but was blocked from being able to play college football due to his criminal past, which may have set off the elder Richmond who was killed at the scene.
It does not appear that the younger Richmond’s legal troubles appear to be a motive as police are still looking for some kind of connection between Richmond and the judge.
Judge Bruzzese was flown to UPMC Presbyterian where he underwent surgery, but is reportedly doing “just fine.”
Sheriff Abdalla claims there have already been threats of retaliation against the shooting. Fortunately, yet again, good guys with guns ended the threat with only the suspect dead.
Gun control advocates would argue that a judge isn’t the same as the rest of us, that his duties explicitly put him in a position of having to deal with violent people. Of course, he should be able to arm himself.
However, anyone can find themselves in the midst of a violent confrontation.
Judge Bruzzese had plenty of reason to be concerned someone might try to harm him—caution that turned out to be incredibly wise in retrospect—but so do the rest of us. Anyone can encounter random violence. That’s why so many Americans want to carry firearms for personal protection.
Had Judge Bruzzese not been armed, he would have been unable to return fire. Plain and simple.
While there was also a probation officer present, that was more a quirk of location than anything one can plan for. After all, Richmond’s master plan was to ambush a sitting judge outside of the courthouse where the likelihood for law enforcement was probably higher than anywhere else in Steubenville, OH outside of the police station itself.
We can now see where the son got his sense of judgement from, that’s for sure.
The identity of a second person in Richmond’s car has not been release, though Fox News described the individual as a suspect. Law enforcement did note that this individual never got out of the vehicle. He may have been wounded in the leg by a ricochet.
The most important thing is that we have a good guy still alive, and a bad guy in the morgue.
Edited to add: It appears that Richmond had a wrongful death suit in front of Judge Bruzzese. Pro tip: This is not how you get a judge on your side in a case. Ever.