Nathaniel Richmond, the father of a football player accused in an infamous Steubenville, Ohio rape case, was identified as the deceased suspect in the shooting of Judge Joseph J. Bruzzese, Jr., who fired back when he was ambushed.
“Suspect who shot Steubenville judge identified as Nathaniel Richmond, father of Youngstown State football player Ma’lik Richmond,” reported WPXI.
The judge was ambushed as he walked into a local courthouse in Steubenville, Ohio, according to NBC News.
CBS Sports reported that Ma’lik Richmond, “a defensive tackle, was a high school player in Steubenville, Ohio, when he was charged and convicted in the 2012 rape of a 16-year-old girl. He was released after serving time in a juvenile detention center and returned to his high school football team.” However, authorities have said they don’t see a connection between that case and the judge’s shooting at this point.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Judge & a Probation Officer Fired Back & Nathaniel Richmond Was Killed at the Scene
The judge was armed, and he managed to shoot back, as did a probation agent nearby.
“Every judge should be armed today in America. Prosecutors need to be armed. It was a cold-blooded attempted murder on a judge,” Sheriff Fred Abdalla said.
“At least one of the subjects shot at Bruzzese, who then returned fire with his own weapon. A probation officer, who was behind Bruzzese, also fired at the suspects. It was not immediately clear how many shots were fired in the exchange,” NBC News reported.
However, authorities later said the probation officer “stepped in and ultimately killed the suspect,” according to ABC News.
Bruzzese is one of two judges listed in the Court of Common Pleas for the Jefferson County, Ohio courthouse. “Jurisdiction includes all civil matters exceeding $500.00, domestic-divorces and dissolution cases, and criminal felonies,” the court website reads.
The “suspect was fatally wounded when either the judge or a probation officer standing behind him returned fire. The judge was armed and his weapon was on scene,” The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
2. Bruzzese Was Ambushed as He Walked in an Alley Near the Courthouse
The shooting occurred around 8 a.m. as the judge “walked toward the Jefferson County Courthouse,” according to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
A Facebook page in Nathaniel Richmond’s name attributed to him by CBS Pittsburgh says as its intro “Mamir abdull muhumad” and indicates he was in a “civil union” and from Chicago, Illinois.
Sheriff Abdalla said in a news conference, “This individual laid in wait for our judge. 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.”
According to ABC News, “Courthouse video shows both the judge and the gunman firing about five times each.”
3. Youngstown State Recently Announced That Richmond’s Son Would Forfeit a Year of Eligibility
Authorities said that the judge had no known connection to the Steubenville rape case involving Richmond’s son. “In a bizarre twist, the shooter was identified by authorities on Monday afternoon as Nathaniel Richmond, father of one of the two teenage boys found delinquent — or guilty — in 2013 as part of that rape case,” reported The Washington Post.
However, the Post added, “Jane Hanlin, prosecutor for Jefferson County, identified Richmond as the shooter and said authorities do not believe there was any connection at all between the shooting and Richmond’s son, Ma’lik.”
August 7, CBS Sports reported that Youngstown State announced that Ma’lik Richmond “will not be playing football for the Penguins this season. He will, however, remain part of the football program and participate in practice, though he will forfeit a year of eligibility.” The university had issued a statement that read in part, “Youngstown State University takes the matter of sexual assault very seriously and continues to educate everyone within the campus community about the impact and prevention of sexual assault.”
According to Bleacherreport, “More than 10,000 people signed a petition started by a Youngstown State student to stop Richmond from playing after he was convicted of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl while she was unconscious in 2012.”
The site noted: “Richmond previously played at California (Pa.) and Potomac State College of West Virginia University, and he was attempting to make the YSU roster as a walk-on.”
4. Richmond had a Criminal History & a Pending Case in the Courthouse
It was not yet clear what the motive was for the shooting, but The Washington Post reported that Richmond had a pending case and criminal history. According to HeraldStarOnline, another man was in the car with the shooter and “told law enforcement interviewers he had been unaware of what was happening.” The newspaper reported that, according to authorities, “that man and the shooting suspect had been drinking last night when the suspect said he had to be in court early today.”
The judge was shot. He was wounded seriously enough in the shooting that he required surgery, but he was talking after being shot, The Post-Gazette reported. The judge was later described as “doing fine” at the hospital, according to the HeraldStarOnline.
According to ABC News, “investigators are familiar with the suspect and are checking to see if he had any connection with the judge.”
5. Bruzzese Has Been a Judge for Almost 20 Years & Is an ‘Avid Hunter’
According to Ballotpedia, “Joseph J. Bruzzese, Jr. is a judge on the Jefferson County Court of Common Pleas in Steubenville, Ohio. He joined the court in 1998. Bruzzese was re-elected to the Jefferson County Court of Common Pleas in 2014, winning a new term that expires on February 8, 2021.”
Ballotpedia notes, “Bruzzese received both his undergraduate degree and his J.D. from the Ohio Northern University.” He received his law degree in 1976.
According to ABC News, Judge Joseph Corabi described Bruzzese as an avid hunter and “a tough son of a gun.”