STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (AP) — A judge was shot and wounded Monday morning as he walked toward his county’s courthouse, and a suspect was killed after a probation officer returned fire, officials said.
Jefferson County Judge Joseph Bruzzese Jr. was shot near the courthouse in Steubenville, just across the Ohio River from West Virginia’s northern panhandle, roughly 30 miles west of Pittsburgh.
Steubenville City Manager James Mavromatis said Bruzzese was talking after being wounded. He was flown to a Pittsburgh-area hospital.
Investigators didn’t immediately release further information about the judge’s condition or the suspect. Gov. John Kasich said he was told the judge would survive.
The attack had to be intended because people know about the reserved spots where judges park, said one of Bruzzese’s judicial colleagues.
Judge Joseph Corabi said he and the county’s two other judges park in reserved spots next to the courthouse in eastern Ohio. Judges then walk a few feet down what’s known as “Courthouse Alley” to a side entrance to the building, said Corabi, the Jefferson County juvenile and probate court judge.
“Everybody knows who parks there. That’s why it’s not an accident what happened. He was clearly an intended target,” Corabi said.
Corabi said Bruzzese is known as an avid hunter. He called him fair, hard-working, well-liked and “a tough son of a gun.”
“He is very intelligent and he can cut to the chase,” Corabi said. “He spots issues and he resolves the issues.”
Bruzzese, 65, hears general and domestic relations cases as one of two judges serving in Jefferson County Common Pleas Court.
Bruzzese 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.
Bruzzese had likely arrived early to review his usual Monday morning batch of legal motions, Corabi said.
Local media reported that the suspect’s body could be seen lying next to a car at the drive-thru of a neighboring bank. Police said a man who was in the car with the suspected shooter was taken into custody.
The courthouse was closed for the day as local and state authorities helped to secure the scene. Jefferson County Commissioner Thomas Graham told WTOV that some courthouse workers witnessed the “tragic situation” and that people would need time to process what had happened.
The state crime lab will help investigate the shooting, said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.
Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown released a statement about the shooting Monday.
“Connie and I are thinking of Judge Bruzzese and his family, and we pray for his recovery. I join all Ohioans in expressing my gratitude for local law enforcement who responded. My office will support local authorities and the state as they investigate this senseless act.”