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.



This Smith creep needs to be put away. In the last year he's been arrested for felony theft, having drug paraphernalia on school property and now this. He keeps getting off with a slap on the wrist. It's obvious his violence and criminal activity is escalating. HE NEEDS TO BE HELD RESPONSIBLE. I went to school with his parents -- neither worth the price of a cup of coffee. My prayers go to the victim and his family. I hope Smith rots in jail for the rest of his life.


What's with the green vests in the photos?


They're suicide vests. It's almost impossible to tear them up to make them into a makeshift rope to hang yourself with

swiss family

and why don't we want him to kill himself exactly?????? Oh that's right... how will any lawyers make money off of his near death actions... I say put a rope and a chair in his cell, and make sure that is something secure attached to the ceiling, just in case he wants to go out on his own... heck I even say offer him a "suicide" pill to take right now if that is his choice.. it will save us as taxpayers money, and really what kind of life, or what will he ever contribute to others anyway.... let it be his final choice in my opinion


Another thought, why is I think that these two are responsible for all the recent break-ins and vehicle thefts in town?


I wouldn't be surprised. Hopefully there will be evidence linking them to these other crimes.

Gone Fishing

The infamous turtle suit its a suicide vest they put on people if there suicidel. ( I have a uncle that works for a jail)


I doubt the Smith kid is suicidal. He thinks he's God's gift to the world. He'd never hurt himself. I'm sure at this point he's crying his eyes out and playing the victim.


And could someone explain the $500,000 bond? I'm confused between bond and bail. Does this mean the entire $500,000 has to be paid to get him out of jail or just 10%? I hope he sits in jail. He shouldn't be out on the streets.

Sitting In The ...

Bail - Release or secure the release of (a prisoner) on payment of bail: "get bailed out of jail".
Bond - a document in which a prisoner and one or more sureties guarantee that the prisoner will attend the court hearing of the charges against him if he is released on bail


John Stamos looks dreamy in these commercials.


maybe he could be in commercials for the bath house?


I think that is an excellent idea.....billboards???


Maybe, just maybe .... if parents of these young kids today, would remind these kids that when they go to prison ..... you're not going to have anymore girlfriends (or boyfriends). You're not only sentencing yourself to a life behind bars ..... unfortunately I know that wouldn't be a problem for a lot of them, but it might for some. Good old fashioned discipline might work some too. Just a thought.

The Dusk

Oh, these two will have plenty of boyfriends in jail.

Concerned For A...

Ok, I'm sure I will get verbally reprimanded by people but I have to stick up for Connor.Him and my son have been friends for a long time. He is definatley NOT the type of person who does these things. He got hemmed up and his life possibly ruined. I'm positive he had absolutely not a clue that Tyler was going over there to do this. To fight the kid, probably so, but to bludgeon him with a tire iron, no way.Connor never even touched this kid at all. Connor is and always has been a good kid. Honestly, I don't think Conner has ever even been in a physical fight with anyone. As a matter of fact, he is practically the only reason my son comes back to this town to visit. He was just beginning his life building motorcycles with his dad, and he loves it. And to the people saying he could be resposible for break ins around here, no way.He isn't a pillhead, druggie, drunk, or anything like that.He has always worked since he was old enough to get a job and earned his own money. Tyler on the other hand, not a doubt in my mind. I'm not being bias, I know both these kids, my son grew up playing baseball, basketball, and football with both. I watched Tyler go off the path and become a dark person, dropped out of sports, his parents kicked him out left and right. He has been accused of stealing stuff from ALOT of people around here, this doesn't suprize me about him at all..But Connor..I know what the article says..and unfortunatley he made some horrible decisions that are now going to affect the rest of his life, but knowing Connor, I'm sure he was shocked at Tylers actions and didn't know what to do. My prayers go out to the Thornton family, and also to the Holbrook family. Before anyone says it, yes I'm aware I wasn't there, so I don't know all the facts, nobody does. This is just my opinion, and the way I feel about the whole situation. I actually have and old friend.Years ago him and a friend of his went to a party. They were there for quite some time, a few hours or so. His friend got drunk and got into an altercation with some guy. His friend shot and killed the guy, and because he was the one that brought the friend to the party, he spent time in prison for it. Never touched the guy, had no way of knowing this was going to happen. So you have to keep things in mind before passing judgement on people you don't know.


The biggest question is did he take the crowbar with him or did he get it on site? If he took it WITH him then Connor was privvy to what could/ would happen and is guilty as charged. If it was a last second decision and picked it up or grabbed it from the car AFTER they got there, then Connor has a chance. If it's the first one then I would charge him with attemped murder or if he dies, murder. Sorry- guilty by association and beforehand knowledge. Lets hope it's the 2nd option and he can get past this if he is as good a young man as you state.

Sitting In The ...

I appreciate you sharing this and as you stated he did make a few dumb decisions. First off you're being bias, you're placing all the blame on Mr.Smith. Second you stated "Connor was probably horrified by his actions" If he was so horrified why did he drive Mr.Smith there when Connor knew what was about to happen? Why after the attack started did Connor make no attempt to stop it? Why did Connor help Mr.Smith hide from police?. He had multiple chances to stop it and did nothing !!!! In my opinion you're in denial.I don't mean to offend you but you're insulting my intelligence by portraying Connor as the perfect child, when clearly he's not the person you think he is.


Yes, I couldn't agree with you more. I don't know anything about these kids than what you have stated, but I do know from experiences that you can find yourself in situations that you never had any intentions of being in. From the sound of it, this kid didn't know what the other kid was planning to do, but unfortently he will be tried right along with his friend because he fled with him. It's sad, because maybe this kid had a bright future, but he also had the choice of stopping his friend even after the assault happened. That is where he messed up, and that will be the reason he will be sent to prison. Now the question is going to be whether he will talk to to detectives while they are doing their investigation, or does he think he owes his friend some kind of loyalty and stick by his side and they both go down together. I wish the kids in the hospital the best of luck, and hope he makes it. As for the others involved, they need to take responsibility for there actions. Next time it might not be a tire iron, it might be a gun. Would he have let his friend pull the trigger on an unarmed person, better yet, would he have taken him and hid him out after he had done it. This is a very sad situation all the way around.


I hope it will prove that you are right about Connor. The evidence will tell. Tyler has been involved with drugs and if Connor is/was hanging with him, then the chances that he, too, was involved with drugs is high. Druggies tend to stick together. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that Tyler was the driving force behind this attack. Tyler is an out-of-control jerk who for some reason feels entitled to lie, steal, and cheat with no remorse whatsoever. Its unfortunate that he is dragging someone else down with him, but Connor is an adult and is responsible for HIS actions. And, I don't think anyone is passing judgment -- everyone is just responding to the article with THEIR opinions. You are entitled to yours and I truly hope yours are right about Connor. Tyler, I hope, gets the book thrown at him.


These two scumbags need to be put down....the old fashioned way. "Oh, poor Connor , he's such a good kid"....bulls**t. I say no mercy....give them both the max allowed by law. Set an example, judge.

Concerned For A...

Well it's pretty obvious you must be somehow affiliated with the guy that got assulted.

Sitting In The ...

After the man was assaulted his girlfriend put him in her car in route to the Hospital. Dumb and Dumber here then chased them for a short distance in another vehicle. Once the girlfriend's car entered Willard the PD escorted them to the hospital. Regardless of the victim I sincerely hope they rot in prison. What's wrong Tyler & Connor you need two of you to fight one person? Cowards like you two deserve to rot in prison.


I hope they both get locked up for a VERY long time. Tyler absolutely needs punished instead of just a slap on the wrist like his past crimes. And to everyone sticking up for Connor, I grew up with him and yes he can be a good guy, but he isn't quite the gem everyone is making him sound like. He has stolen from me personally, he has lost a job from stealing from the work place, he is into drugs and alcohol and he obviously knew what was going to happen. If he didnt drive tyler there, Austin would still be living a normal happy life today, so I hold Connor just as responsible for this. Yes people make mistakes, and this is obviously one, but they still need to get max punishment for what happened to this kid. put these low life's away for a long time and stay out of our neighborhood.

Concerned For A...

For one, Connor was driving Tylers vehicle, so that crowbar could have been in the bed of the truck, without Connors knowledge. Two, if you listen to the tape actually, the girl says that it was a jack hammer thingy, then she states it was a tire iron, then she said it was in a bag. If he had it possibly in a tool bag or something in the bed of his truck, How in the world is Connor supposed to know if it's even there? For three, the girlfriend you hear on the tape?? Yeah, that just so happens to be Tylers PREGNANT EX girlfriend. Austin was angry because Tyler wanted to go to her ultra sound. They both began fighting with Tyler, Austin telling him he was going to beat his A$$ and a bunch of other stuff. They gave Tyler the address of where they were, telling him to come fight, so he asked Connor if he would drive him there, that they were going to fight. Well obviously there was no fight, because Tyler jumped out of the truck, grabbed a tire iron, and beat him with it. I'm not saying in any way that Connor did absolutely nothing wrong. I know this much..First hand, i'm not taking my friend to go fight someone, cause I wouldnt personally want the trouble, but if I were in a situation like that, and somebody is crazy enough to beat someone with a crowbar, sorry for you, but I'm not putting MY head in the way, that is for sure. Nobody can say for sure he knew without a doubt that it was going to be that extreme. Everybody can think what they want.I'm sure more things will come out as things unfold. ppunk142, so obviously you worked at amcor with Connor, so what did he steal from you? And what did he steal from work? I'm just curious because I know someone who lived with him at the time he worked there, and his roomates were told that the never gave him a reason for being fired, that they just didn't need him anymore, which Amcor is FAMOUS for screwing people out of their jobs. I personally know of three people that were screwed over by that company.


which one is which in the mugshots?


Smith is on the left.


Funny how I had put in my comment that he may have gotten the bar "on site" and now that is a perfect excuse for you to show how wonderful of a kid he is. I think you have no idea how BAD he is and you just want to make excuses for him so he doesn't have to live up to being an idiot. Stop sticking up for the piece of crap. All your doing is enableing him.


Yes what those boys did was horrifying. But everyone needs to realize this was
intentionally set up by Alexis. The gf who is pregnant by Tyler Smith.
She had this poor boy come up to make him jealous. She should be also held responsible!


As the world turns, teen style. Can't wait to see it on MTV.