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Two charged with attempted murder in crowbar assault

Jessica Cuffman • Aug 27, 2014 at 2:38 PM

Two Bellevue men are accused of brutally assaulting a 19-year-old man Monday morning at a home near Willard.     

Tyler Smith, 19, was charged with attempted murder, while Connor Holbrook, 19, was charged with felonious assault.

The victim, Austin Thornton, 19, of St. Paris, Ohio, is in a Toledo hospital fighting for his life. 

Smith and Holbrook remain in the Huron County jail. 

Smith allegedly used a crowbar to assault Thornton at a home in the 100 block of Ohio 99, Huron County Detective Bill Duncan said.

“Holbrook’s participation in the assault was more on the level of conspirator or assisting,” Duncan said. “He is not being charged with the same crime as Smith because Smith was the primary actor in the assault.”

A friend of Thornton’s called 911 at about 12:30 a.m. Monday, launching a police investigation. Thornton was taken to the Willard hospital for treatment, where Huron County deputies met with his friends, one of whom identified Smith as a suspect. 

With help from Bellevue police and Sandusky County deputies, Huron County deputies tracked Smith and Holbrook to an apartment on Hamilton Street in Bellevue. Thornton was later transferred to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo. 

Smith initially denied involvement but later “made admissions,” deputies said.  Investigators also obtained warrants to search Smith’s vehicle and the Hamilton Street apartment. 

Thornton had been in the Willard area visiting friends this past weekend, Duncan said, although he declined to say if Thornton ever met the alleged assailants before Monday. He also would not say why Holbrook and Smith were at the house.

“That starts to get into motive, and we can’t discuss that at this point in the investigation,” Duncan said. “It will make sense when we release the information. We just have to do a few more things and a few more interviews before we can go into that.”

Thornton is fighting life-threatening injuries and had at least one surgery since Monday, Duncan said. 

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