911 Call; Teen 'fighting for his life' after crowbar attack

One local 19-year-old man is charged with attempted murder, another faces a felonious assault charge.
Cary Ashby
Apr 23, 2013


A Dayton-area teenager is in a Toledo trauma center fighting for his life after being attacked by two Bellevue men early Monday morning.

Huron County Sheriff Dane Howard said his office is handling the case as if the male victim might die.

"It's not fair for me to speculate, but this is more than a standard assault," he said.

The victim, Austin Thornton 19, was listed in critical condition in the neuro-intensive care unit of Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center as of early Monday afternoon, a hospital spokeswoman said.

"We are deeply concerned about the health of this young man," said Howard, who suspects Thornton is "fighting for his life" at the hospital.

Two suspects have been arrested and charged in connection with attacking Thornton.

Tyler G. Smith, 19, of 223 Hamilton St., Bellevue, is charged with attempted murder, a first-degree felony. Connor C.D. Holbrook, 19, of 840 Kilbourne St., Bellevue, is charged with felonious assault, a second-degree felony.

"At this point, these are preliminary charges. The investigation is ongoing," Norwalk Assistant Law Director Scott Christophel said.

Smith could be charged with murder and Holbrook could face complicity to murder if the victim dies, Christophel said. The prosecutor also said the two suspects could face additional charges once their cases are presented to a Huron County grand jury.

Authorities have declined to say why Thornton was in Huron County or how the suspects know the victim.


Bond hearings

Smith must post a $500,000 bond before being released from the Huron County Jail.

"The allegation is he hit another (person) in the head with a crowbar," Christophel said at Monday's bond hearing in Norwalk Municipal Court.

Judge John Ridge earlier asked Smith if he knew attempted murder was a serious offense.

"Yes, I really regret it," Smith said via closed-circuit television.

"He drove Mr. Smith to the residence," Christophel said, and knew Smith had a crowbar with him and intended to cause Thornton serious physical harm.

Holbrook also reportedly drove Smith away from the Peru Township crime scene and helped hide the crowbar, Christophel told the court.

"He also attempted to hide Mr. Smith," the prosecutor added.

Holbrook and Smith have preliminary hearings scheduled for 1:15 p.m. May 1. If they waive their right to have the state present evidence, their cases will be transferred to Huron County Common Pleas Court for a possible grand jury indictment.

Howard was asked about the motive in the attack.

"I don't think it's fair to talk about motive. If I speak about the specifics of the motive, it could impede the investigation," the sheriff said.


The investigation

Detective Sgt. Josh Querin, who is leading the investigation, said investigators determined Smith was "the primary suspect" after speaking to witnesses. Querin and Detective Bill Duncan interviewed Smith.

"He initially was dishonest and then he admitted to the crime," Chief Deputy Ted Patrick said.

About 12:30 a.m. Monday, the sheriff's office received a 9-1-1 call about "an act of violence" that happened at 131 Ohio 99, Willard. The 9-1-1 call initially went to the Willard Police Department, whose dispatchers transferred the call immediately.

Deputies first responded to Mercy Willard Hospital, where the victim first was transported.

"He was unresponsive at that time," Howard said.

A LifeFlight helicopter later transported Thornton to Mercy St. Vincent in Toledo. Howard said the victim sustained severe head trauma and blunt trauma to his torso.

Detectives immediately were assigned to the case. Howard said the Bellevue Police Department and Sandusky County Sheriff's Office assisted deputies because the two suspects were arrested at an apartment complex on Hamilton Street, which is on the Sandusky County side of Bellevue.

"The crime happened in Huron County," the sheriff added.

"Bellevue was truly remarkable with the assistance they provided," said Howard, who called the initial response a collaborative effort.

Smith and Holbrook were with a female subject when they were arrested and located about 2:30 a.m. Howard said the woman presently is being treated as a witness.

At one point, Deputy Kayla Zander went to Mercy St. Vincent to speak with the victim and his relatives, but Howard said the deputy wasn't able to speak to Thornton.

Agents with the Ohio Bureau of Identification (BCI) responded to Peru Township and processed the crime scene. BCI agents also are expected to process the crowbar for trace evidence.

During the investigation, authorities received information that someone threw the crowbar into a ditch.

"Deputy (John) Vogel recovered that weapon and that was turned over to BCI," Howard said.

As of Monday morning, BCI agents had processed several crime scenes and were expected to do so until at least the afternoon, Howard said.

The sheriff's office obtained a search warrant from Huron County Juvenile Court Judge Timothy Cardwell. Although Howard didn't release details of the warrant, court administrator Chris Mushett confirmed the sheriff's office had received one.

Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler was at the sheriff's office about 8 a.m. Monday to be briefed on the case.



like.....MTV and all the other reality TV shows are fueling this downward spiral of todays youth.


This whole situation is heart wrenching. Who did what, for what reason?
Violence and teenagers and many broken hearts. So sad.


Hey concerned.. to say Connor got fired from Amcor for no reason proves ur an idiot. I did work with him and i kno exactly why he was fired. When u get hired in they put u on this thing called 90 day probation. Don't kno if u know what that means but in short if u call off or come in late during that period ur subject to termination. Connor not only called off multiple times he went home early and missed a mandatory meeting. And THAT "concerned" is why he was fired. The day they walked him out he said he knew it was coming. So lets stop painting Connor as a victim. He $hit the bed now its time for him to lay in it.

Concerned For A...

Why are you being so nasty? You don't know me. If you read my comment properly, I was merely curious WHY he got fired, because someone else was saying it was for theft.I also know that Amcor is notorious for keeping temp workers for up to a year, then letting them go and hiring off the street. They did it to a good friend of mine. He worked there through I think it was kellys. Anyways this guy worked there for just under a year, like 6 days a week, walked to and from work, and then told him they didn't need him anymore, and hired someone off the street. This guy never missed one day of work, even sicker than a dog, still walked to work and was there on time. I have another friend that worked there for years and was fired over some bullshit. I know not everyone tells the whole story, so that is why I was asking. My son lived with Connor, and I just wanted to know why he was fired, cause he told everyone it was for no reason. So I guess I'm an idiot for asking? I'm not saying he may not deserve to pay for what he did, but I don't care what you or anyone else says. I know Connor didn't know he was taking Tyler there to kill this guy. If he did, then I will say I was wrong, but right now, I just can't wrap my head around it. And I would appreciate if you wouldn't talk down to me like I'm some dumb A$$ that knows nothing about the world. You don't know me at all. Never once in my comment did I say he got fired for no reason.I'm very aware what a 90 day probation period is, I'm not a lazy a$$ that don't work. So there is no reason for you to be a condescending A hole just because I asked a question. Have a nice day.


Did that phone really ring 4 times when they tried to call the sheriff? I never hear them come on the line. I think the Willard dispatcher did a good job. Good idea passing on the ambulance that could have added 15-20 more mins and they were almost there anyways. Hope the young man pull threw


They are both of age and know what they are doing. Stop saying this guy or that guy was a good kid. They are adults and should be treated like it. So what if they were setup to fight by the gf. Be a man and fight like a man . Both these guys deserve to be dealt with in the maximum ability of the court. They won't have each other or a crowbar in prison. Let them tell Bubba that they were good kids.


For the record, I do not know anyone involved in this case. It's just easy to see that these two are scum. Pull your head out of your as*, Mommy. Face it, you did a terrible job. Now, own it and let these two get what's coming to them.