NewsOhio News


Investigators call 'terrifying' turnpike attack random

Man stabbed two people, then shot by deputy
Posted at 5:29 PM, Oct 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-20 18:38:38-04

FREMONT, Ohio — Sandusky County investigators said Wednesday stabbings at a turnpike service plaza appear to be a "terrifying" random attack that killed one man and wounded another before a sheriff's deputy shot and wounded the suspect.

The stabbings happened around 5:15 p.m. at the Erie Islands Service Plaza on the Ohio Turnpike Tuesday.

Investigators said 66-year-old David Diederich from Indiana was killed, and a 53-year-old man from Wisconsin was wounded in the attack.

The Sandusky County prosecutor said 51-year-old Thomas Conner from Beloit, Wisconsin has been charged with murder.

"We have not been able to ascertain through the investigation as to his reason for being at the service plaza or the reason for his attacks on the other patrons," said Sandusky County Sheriff Chris Hilton.

Investigators released cell phone video from a witness showing who they said was Conner refusing a deputy's orders to drop the knife.

The sheriff said the deputy fired two rounds of rubber balls in an attempt to stop Conner, but the sheriff said those were ineffective.

The video then captured the sound of the deputy, identified as Deputy Evan Ely, firing two rounds at Conner.

Investigators said Conner was shot once in the hip and once in the waist.

Troopers said Conner was flown to a Toledo hospital and is in stable condition.

The sheriff said there does not appear to be any connection between the victims and their accused attacker.

Hilton said one of the victims was sitting in his work van eating when Conner attacked.

Troopers said they pulled Conner over for speeding on the turnpike in Cuyahoga County last week, and also responded to his call for help when he wasn't feeling well at a Portage County service plaza Monday.

Investigators said they do not know how long the suspect has been in the area and are still looking into any potential criminal history.

The deputy who shot Conner has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of BCI's investigation into the shooting.

The sheriff said had that deputy not acted when he did, he believes the incident could have been worse.

"Nobody wants to do this," said Hilton. "But his actions, I believe, saved lives."

The prosecutor said Conner will be held without bond once released from the hospital. She said additional charges in the case are likely.