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Warrant issued for suspect in beating

Victim permanently impaired last winter in parking lot attack

– The first punch landed on his face and sent the young man straight back.

"Stiff as a board," his accused attacker would later describe it to a Fort Wayne police officer.

After he hit the ground, the young man didn't move. That didn't stop the beating.

More blows followed from the man who knocked him down, according to newly released Allen County Superior Court documents, and they shattered the young man's face.

He was left with a broken nose and eye socket, his sinuses fractured. His brain swelled and bled.

The blows put him in the ICU.

Tuesday, Allen County prosecutors formally charged the person they say battered the man so severely he likely suffered permanent impairment. Eric M. Bennett, 21, is now facing felony counts of aggravated battery and battery.

No motive for the beating has been released, but court documents indicate that Bennett and the victim, 21-year-old Colton Schroeder, might be cousins.

The beating took place Jan. 27 in the parking lot of St. Joe Place Apartments, which is marketed as a living space for IPFW students.

Bennett, of the 1400 block of Spring Street, readily admitted to punching Schroeder and knocking him down, court records said.

Witnesses at the apartment complex told police that Bennett then hit Schroeder "a couple more times in the face" while he was on the ground.

One witness said Bennett threw at least two more punches, according to court documents.

Later, Bennett went to a local hospital's intensive care unit to see Schroeder, describing himself as his cousin.

There, he was met by Schroeder's mother.

According to court documents, Bennett told the woman he was sorry for what happened and needed to know whether Schroeder was going to be all right.

Doctors who have evaluated Schroeder since the beating told police he is still suffering residual effects from his injuries.

He has shown signs of anosmia, which is the inability to detect odor, as well as mild to moderate loss of motor skill on his right side.

Schroeder has also shown signs of anxiety, low levels of self-esteem and mild to moderate symptoms of depression, according to court documents.

A warrant has been issued for Bennett's arrest.

jeffwiehe@jg.net

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