Warrant: Defendant says text, phone messages triggered crowbar assault

Cary Ashby • Apr 29, 2013 at 11:07 PM

Attempted murder suspect Tyler G. Smith told investigators the assault "was precipitated by text, phone and electronic messages that were exchanged between himself and others," according to a search warrant.

Huron County Sheriff's Detective Sgt. Josh Querin said one of the last things left to do in the investigation is obtaining feedback from various social media sites for "pretty much everyone involved." The information is related to warrants, which have been signed by a local judge.

"We hope to have it wrapped up by next week," Querin said.

Smith, 19, of 223 Hamilton St., Bellevue, is accused of hitting Austin D. Thornton in the head with a crowbar early Monday. Smith is charged with attempted murder.

"Tyler Smith ... made admissions that he disposed of a crowbar that was used in the assault, out of the window of his vehicle following the assault," Detective Bill Duncan wrote in the warrant affidavit.

Smith's suspected accomplice, Connor C.D. Holbrook, 19, of 840 Kilbourne St., Bellevue, is charged with felonious assault, a second-degree felony.

The two suspects were arrested at a Bellevue apartment in the 100 block of Hamilton Street about 2:30 a.m. Monday -- nearly two hours after the assault. According to the warrant, the suspects reported leaving the Peru Township crime scene and went southbound in a Ford Ranger.

Holbrook's girlfriend answered the door when detectives arrived at the Hamilton Street apartment.

Smith, who eventually came to the open door, was arrested immediately.

Holbrook's girlfriend was interviewed later in which she "told a deputy that the crowbar may have touched her clothing as it was being discarded out (of) the window," Duncan said in the warrant.

Soon after the assault, Deputy John Vogel used a tip and recovered the crowbar and turned it over to the Ohio Bureau of Identification to be processed.

Thornton, 19, of St. Paris, is in critical condition the neuro-intensive care unit of Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo.

"They took him off sedation -- on and off for a little bit. He responded to commands," Querin said. "They (hospital staff) were extremely busy. They just said he responded to commands."

Thornton's girlfriend called 9-1-1 on the way to Mercy Willard Hospital early Monday. (NOTE - To listen to the 9-1-1 call and read more about the story, click HERE.)

"My boyfriend just got hit with a tire iron. This kid jumped him," the girlfriend told a dispatcher.

Deputies learned Thornton "had life-threatening injuries and was going to be transferred to another hospital," according to the warrant. A LifeFlight helicopter transported the victim to Mercy St. Vincent.

Smith must post a $500,000 bond before being released from the Huron County Jail. Holbrook's bond is $100,000.

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