Guest column/Judge, family offer thanks to our community

I and my family wish to thank the community for the kindness shown following the shooting incident that occurred on Aug. 21. We offer a special thanks to the probation officer who reacted immediately and placed my safety above his own. We will be forever grateful.

Next, we thank Common Pleas Judge Michelle Miller for her selflessness and willingness to run to my side and administer aid until the ambulance arrived.

The courthouse personnel, emergency responders, helicopter crew and the trauma surgeons and nurses at UPMC Presbyterian flawlessly performed their jobs. A second probation officer stood by my wife for an uninterrupted 30 hours after driving her to the hospital. Our friends and relatives kindly cared for our home and animals.

Several days after the incident, we learned of the outpouring of support from all corners of the community. Public vigils and private prayers supported us through every step of the recovery. We will never know every act of kindness, but we appreciate them all.

We also learned of the coordinated law enforcement response at all levels — local, state and federal. Every local police department responded in order to assist the Steubenville Police Department and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department. The Ohio State Highway Patrol, the West Virginia State Police and the Weirton Police Department added additional security and protected the citizens in the area, as well as the individuals processing the scene throughout the day. The FBI authorized immediate assistance to Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Jane Hanlin to ensure a complete and thorough investigation.

The instant and coordinated response of our local law enforcement yields much for which the area should be proud. They are ready for whatever comes.

We offer our unending thanks to Sheriff Fred Abdalla for his continued moral support and increased security at the office and at our home. Both continue and are genuinely appreciated. Abdalla has correctly noted that I have had a CCW permit for years, and I am thankful that I did.

To all of those friends and family members who sent cards, letters, offerings and well wishes, we simply say thank you. Your kindness continues to amaze us. We experienced thoughtful gestures from people all over the world, including a Canadian Customs officer and a cousin in Colorado we didn’t know we had, as well as friends we had lost contact with over the years.

The citizens of Jefferson County are to be commended for their response to this tragedy. We are saddened by the fact that a life was lost and offer our condolences for the grief the Richmond family is experiencing. In our community, people came together to protect one another and we will all be stronger for that.

Finally, I would like to thank my wife, Lisa, for her constant and loving support. Lisa left for work that morning and did not return home for eight days. She stayed by my side day and night, sleeping in a chair in the hospital room. She fed me, washed me and walked me up and down the hallways for therapy.

There is no greater dedication than that.

My family and I ask that you respect our privacy as we continue to recover.

(Bruzzese is a Jefferson County common pleas court judge.)

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