Police: Suspected Shooter Was Stopped By Officer Hours Earlier

Follow KDKA-TV: Facebook | Twitter

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (KDKA/AP) – A Steubenville judge is still recovering in a Pittsburgh hospital after being shot on his way into an Ohio courthouse on Monday.

The suspected shooter was killed when the judge and a probation officer returned fire. A second man has been in custody since Monday morning.

The courthouse is still closed since it was shut down abruptly after the incident.

As for the man who police say drove the suspect, 51-year-old Nathaniel Richmond to the courthouse, sources are telling KDKA legal editor Julie Grant it is unlikely he will be charged because he did not know of Richmond’s plan to assassinate the judge.

It was shortly after 8 a.m. when people started calling 911.

Dispatcher: “Jefferson County 911?”

Caller: “Yes, I am calling from the Jefferson County Courthouse. Shots fired right outside the window by the bank.”

Dispatcher: “By the bank?”

Common Pleas Judge Joseph Bruzzese was shot as he was heading into the courthouse.

Dipatcher: “How many shots did you hear?”

Caller: “Oh, many, at least 7 to 10.”

Officials say both the judge and a probation officer walking nearby returned fire at the shooter.

Dispatcher: “Did you see if anybody was hit?”

Caller: “I don’t know.”

Dispatcher: “You don’t know?”

Caller: “(Inaudible) They think maybe Judge Bruzzese, but I’m not sure.”

The judge survived, but suspected shooter Richmond, who is a known convicted felon, died at the scene.

“I think it’s pretty well established that this was strictly an act against one individual, not the whole system, but an individual. And we’re trying to figure out the why,” said Steubenville City Manager James Mavromatis.

“Thank God that the probation officer was close by. Thank God that the judge is going to be okay. And thank God the suspect was a bad shot,” said Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla, who said Judge Bruzzese is like family to him.

The sheriff has known the judge for 45 years.

As a safety precaution, officials are still protecting the identity of the probation officer who shot Richmond. Officers continue interviewing witnesses for clues about a motive.

“We have a couple search warrants that are being executed today. We have to follow the proper procedures of the law, so we’re doing that,” said Mavromatis.

Courthouse surveillance cameras captured the shooting, but the prosecutor’s office is not releasing it to the public.

“After he’s shot, the judge was able to raise up and he did return fire. But watching that video hurts me,” said Sheriff Abdalla.

According to prosecutors, Richmond — known on the street as “Snake” — has appeared before Judge Bruzzese in the past and was also a party to a wrongful death lawsuit still pending in his courtroom.

The Associated Press reports that Richmond was stopped by a police officer four hours before the shooting for having a defective headlight as he drove in downtown Steubenville in the early morning darkness.

The judge’s colleagues know his as someone with a reputation of being fair.

“He is regarded in high esteem. I’ve watched him on some sentencing. He has always been nothing but fair,” said Mavromatis.

“He’s a good, fair-minded judge. And he’s a smart judge, too,” said Sheriff Abdalla.

Toxicology testing results will eventually answer the question of whether Richmond was intoxicated at the time of the shooting.

Richmond was the father of a Steubenville High School football player convicted of rape in 2013. A visiting judge handled that case.

No word on when the judge will be released from the hospital.

The courthouse will be back open for business on Wednesday.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)