Steubenville, OH – Jefferson County Judge Joseph Bruzzese, Jr. was shot on Monday morning, August 21, as he walked toward the courthouse, in what police have called a targeted attack.
The incident occurred about 8 AM near the Steubenville courthouse, described as being across the river from West Virginia, according to USA Today. An unidentified probation officer who was nearby, and Judge Bruzzese returned fire, and the suspect was killed. No further information has been released about the suspect.
Judge Bruzzese was airlifted to to a Pittsburgh-area hospital where he has undergone surgery. Steubenville City Manager James Mavromatis said that the Judge was talking after he was shot. He is reported to be in stable condition, according to WTOV9.
Police said that two more associated suspects have been taken into custody. Mavromatis said that both suspects have a previous criminal history. Their names have not yet been released.
“We’re starting to put this whole picture together, but basically what you have is the judge is going to work, these subjects were waiting for them. He comes up, shoots at the judge. The judge returns fire. We also have a probation officer that was behind the judge. He returns fire as he is shot at. The subject is deceased that he shot at. This probation officer has done his job. He reacted to the threat, trying to save the judge and any other bystander that may have been in the area.”
Witnesses reported hearing several shots, and one witness, Cody Allison said, “My alarm went off at 8 AM, and I snoozed it, and a minute or two later, I heard approximately 7 or 8 gunshots, and I went to look out the window and I seen somebody in a white shirt, probably a detective, kneeling down firing at something, and that’s when I knew something happened down here.”
The courthouse has been closed until further notice as police conduct their investigation, and assistance is provided to those that witnessed this traumatic incident. Thomas Graham, Jefferson County Commissioner, said that several people had seen what had happened, and needed time to process.
Judge Bruzzese, age 65, hears general and domestic relations cases, as one of two judges serving in Jefferson County Common Pleas Court. Court records show that he has served in that position since 1997, most recently being re-elected in 2014.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said, “Fran and I are praying for Judge Bruzzese and his family at this difficult time.”
The Ohio State Bureau of Investigation is conducting the investigation.