Arrest made in attempted murder of federal judge
It was a case that started with no witnesses and fragments from a single rifle bullet as the only physical evidence.
That's what investigators had to go on when they began to piece together who fired a shot into the Jacksonville home of U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan, missing him by just inches.
Corrigan and his wife were "winding down" in the early morning hours of June 23 after attending a wedding the evening before.
They heard a loud crash, which they believed was a light bulb exploding. Then they saw the judge had minor cuts from shattered glass. Soon, they realized a bullet had been fired through a window and ripped through two walls.
Law enforcement officials responded in force. Michelle Klimt, FBI special agent in charge, said 51 potential people of interest were identified, 111 neighborhood homes canvassed and 10 search warrants were served.
Investigators quickly focused on Aaron M. Richardson, a 24-year-old Jacksonville man who was facing the possibility of Corrigan sending him back to prison for a violation of his federal probation.
Richardson had been convicted in 2011 of attempting to manufacture an incendiary device, for which he served about three years.
Within 48 hours of that single shot crashing through a window of the Corrigans' home, Richardson was arrested at his mother's apartment. A .30-06 rifle stolen from an Arlington sporting goods store about a week earlier also was found there.
Corrigan 'fearless' in role
While announcing the arrest Monday, Lee Bentley, the acting U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Florida, called the attempt on Corrigan's life "not only an attack on an individual but on the entire judicial system."
"There is no more serious crime," Bentley said at the news conference that included officials from several law enforcement agencies.
Bentley said Corrigan was "fearless" after the shooting as he "continued to serve in his capacity as district judge without hesitation."
He said Corrigan and his wife "showed exceptional heroism."
Corrigan released a brief statement, saying he and his family appreciate the concern shown by the community. He said he would have no further comment until the case is over.
U.S. Marshal Bill Berger said his agency used 25 marshals to protect Corrigan and his family for about 45 days after the shooting "until we were convinced there were no other co-conspirators."
The case will remain in the Jacksonville district, but the magistrate will be from Brunswick, Ga., and the judge from Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Charges pile up
In addition to the attempted murder charge, Richardson faces two dozen additional counts in the indictment unsealed Monday.
Several of those come from false statements officials say he made after his June 25 arrest:
He had been at his mother's home at the time the shot had been fired into Corrigan's home.
The room at his mother's apartment where the stolen rifle had been found was not his room.
His fingerprints were only on the rifle because he touched it while trying to get his shoes out of a group of items police had placed in a pile during his arrest.
Other false statements included not telling his probation officer about arrests in Jacksonville and Volusia County.
The indictment also says in March 2012, Richardson impersonated a Navy officer by sending a letter to Bethune Cookman University saying that he (Richardson) was a master sergeant in the Marines, working undercover at the school.
The letter demanded that Bethune Cookman delete all negative information about Richardson from its records or face federal charges. It also ordered that the school immediately reinstate Richardson as a student.
He now faces life in prison.