Moscow, Russia (CNN) -- A judge in several high-profile cases was gunned down Monday as he walked out of his apartment to go to work, officials said.
Eduard Chuvashov had worked as a judge with Moscow's City Court for two years.
He specialized in handling complicated criminal cases and felonies, said court spokeswoman Anna Usacheva.
"We knew him as a very professional, decent and responsive person," Usacheva said.
In December 2008, Chuvashov sentenced a group of Russian teenage skinheads for carrying out 20 racially-motivated killings.
Seven defendants were handed prison sentences ranging from six to 20 years for killing non-Slavic migrants in Russia between 2006 and 2007.
When arrested, the leader of the gang, Artur Ryno, was only 17. The gang posted videos of their attacks on the Internet, readily admitted to their crimes in court and didn't repent.
Most recently, Chuvashov convicted 12 skinheads from a group known as the The White Wolves.
Russia's Interfax news agency quoted an official as saying the judge had been getting constant threats, and ultra-nationalist groups had urged their followers on Web posts to lynch the judge.
Chuvashov's death took place at 8:50 a.m. near his apartment door, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Prosecutor General's office said on its Web site.
"He died from bullet wounds to the head and chest. The culprit escaped," the statement said.
On Monday, Chuvashov was to begin hearings against Vladimir Belashov -- a former policeman who is charged with terrorism.
The hearing was scheduled to be a closed-door one.
Court officials declined to comment on any details of the case but a number of Russian media outlets earlier reported that a group, that included the former policeman, was involved in the bombing of Russian Czar Nicolas II's monument just outside Moscow.
They also are suspected in the attempted bombing of Peter the Great's statue as well as planting explosives several years ago at a station near Moscow where natural gas is pumped to homes and businesses.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has vowed to find those who are behind the killing.
"Everything necessary will be done to find and punish the organizers and perpetrators of this callous murder," Medvedev said, according to the Kremlin Web site.
In a condolence letter sent to the chairwoman of the Moscow City Court, Medvedev, a graduate of a law school himself, described Chuvashov as a "competent lawyer who faithfully served the law, and carried out his duties responsibly and out of principle."