Courthouse Ups Security After Shooting

After a shooting outside of the Jefferson County Courthouse, which resulted in the death of shooter Nathanial Richmond and injuries to Jefferson County Common Pleas Judge Joseph Bruzzese, officials have taken precautions to prevent against these types of violent acts from happening in the future.

Deputy Sheriff Mike Hassan of the Jefferson County Courthouse staff said several preventive efforts have been instituted after the shooting involving Bruzzese and Richmond took place in August.

“No one may enter the side doors unless they are handicapped. … One door is used for that purpose and security is very tight here,” said Hassan.

Since the shooting took place, security also has begun doing outside perimeter checks to ensure the safety of those inside and outside of the building.

“We have always had cameras outside and now I go out there every now and then to check on things. You can see that we watch the perimeter from the inside as well,” said Hassan.

Three security members are on duty during the building’s operating hours, according to Hassan. Though the city building still utilizes older methods of safety, such as a “no gun” sign out front and metal detectors, they admit that they have not found an exact science to ensure complete safety.

“(Security) is mostly common sense. There haven’t been any secrets revealed yet,” said Hassan regarding security changes and upgrades.

Though persons with disabililties may enter through one of the two side doors, they are heavily searched, according to Hassan. Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla could not be reached for comment on the matter of security at the Jefferson County Courthouse.

On Aug. 21 of this year, Judge Bruzzese was making his way into the courthouse when Richmond began shooting him head on with a firearm. A shootout ensued between the two ending with Bruzzese being shot in the abdomen and Richmond dying of his injuries.

Bruzzese received assistance from a prosecutor also arriving for work during the shootout, followed by fellow Judge Michelle Miller administering first aid before an ambulance arrived. Bruzzese underwent surgery for his injuries and has been back at work since mid-October.

Richmond had been in and out of the court system for years leading up to his death. Richmond had filed a wrongful death lawsuit in April on behalf of his mother, Mae Etta Richmond, who died in a house fire alongside a 2-year-old named Te’On Dillard on Wellesley Avenue in April of 2015.

According to court information, Mae Etta Richmond leased the home from the Jefferson Metropolitan Housing Authority. Five people were inside the home when the flames broke out, including three children.

The two surviving children jumped from the porch roof to the safety of police. A woman on the same porch roof fell into the fire as the porch roof collapsed minutes later.

The lawsuit claims the housing authority and its employees knew that it had several structural issues due to previous inspections. Defects of the home include exposed electrical wiring and irremediable smoke detectors.

A motion was filed by the attorneys for the housing authority to dismiss the punitive damages in this case in addition to another claim that the housing authority had destroyed the house in order to interrupt the plaintiff’s case.

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