DEVELOPING: Judge Ambushed, Gunned Down Outside Ohio Courthouse

YouTube screenshot/NBC4 WCMH-TV Columbus

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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Jefferson County Judge Joseph J. Bruzzese Jr. was shot outside an Ohio courthouse Monday, in what local officials are describing as a deadly ambush.

The ambush occurred outside the Jefferson County Courthouse in Steubenville, Ohio, near the Pennsylvania and West Virginia state lines. Steubenville City Manager James Mavromatis told local media that a gunman ambushed the judge as he entered the courthouse Monday morning. Bruzzese, who was armed, returned fire at the assailant. An unnamed probation officer at the scene also fired on the would-be assassin. The gunman was killed, though it is not clear who fired the fatal shot. Police have not yet released the shooter’s identity.

Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla told NBC that the gunman and the judge each fired five shots.

One individual was taken into custody in connection with the attack, though police say he is not a suspect.

Little is known about the shooter or the man police arrested, but both have criminal records, according to local officials.

“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,” Mavromatis said.

He added that police have determined the incident was a “deliberate act against our city’s judge.”

He credited the unnamed probation officer for his rapid response to the gunmen, who could have killed the judge and other bystanders were it not for his intervention.

“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,” Mavromatis said.

Bruzzese reportedly conversed with first responders after the shooting. He was evacuated by helicopter to a Pittsburgh-area hospital, where he is said to be in stable condition. He has served as a judge for the Jefferson County Common Pleas Court since 1997, according to the Associated Press.

The courthouse will be closed for the remainder of the day, and all attending business is cancelled.

This is breaking news. Check back for further developments. 

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