A Cincinnati man has been arrested for allegedly shooting the manager of Nick and Drew Lachey's sports bar in the face as she left work last month, officials said.
Elizabeth "Ellie" Richardson was walking from Lachey's to her car early Thanksgiving morning when she was nearly struck by a black van that prosecutors said was operated by 36-year-old Lavoris Hightower.
An argument ensued and when Richardson approached the van, Hightower allegedly fired one shot, hitting the 27-year-old woman in the face, authorities said.
Cincinnati Police on Thursday announced that Hightower was wanted for the brutal shooting, urging the community to call 911 and warned residents not to approach him if spotted.
Hightower surrendered to police Thursday night and was arraigned Friday.
He pleaded not guilty to attempted murder, felonious assault, having weapons while under disability and tampering with evidence.
"Based on my conversation with my client, he didn't do it," Hightower's attorney, Clyde Bennett II, told reporters. "So until they have evidence to the contrary, I am under the belief he didn't do it."
Bennett on Friday took to Facebook to further defend his client, writing "community peace of mind and social security should not be exchanged or traded for freedom and justice. Therefore, I will vigorously fight for and protect the rights of Mr. Hightower regardless of how unpopular, polarizing an (sic) uncomfortable it may be for the community. And regardless of whether I stand alone."
Hightower's bond was set at $1 million. If convicted of all charges, he faces more than 25 years in prison.
Richardson was released from the hospital on Thursday and will continue her recovery journey at home, loved ones said.
"I still have a long road ahead of me, and one more surgery to go, but things have been moving along at a miraculous rate," Richardson said on a YouCaring page created to offset the costs of medical bills and to support her family. "I am home now and couldn't be happier to spend time with my boys and family. It has been truly amazing to see this community pull together in such a time and do this for me. I will spend the rest of my life figuring out a way to show you all how blessed I feel!"
As of Monday, $78,742 had been raised by 934 donors.
Nick and Drew Lachey also planned to honor their employee with a fundraiser, as well as a concert to aid in her recovery.
The fundraising event will be held Tuesday at the Woodward Theater. And on Friday, 98 Degrees will perform their Christmas Tour show at the Aronoff Center in Cincinnati, with all proceeds going toward Richardson's recovery costs, they said.
"This city has a special place in our hearts, which is why we've added another show to support a member of our community," the Lacheys announced on Twitter.