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Police say assault might be linked to gang activity

Local authorities are investigating the assault and robbery of a young Thomson man that has led to the arrest of two suspects. Lawmen also are looking into whether the case is connected to gang activity.

Deputies Jared Land and Alan Baldwin of the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department took both suspects into custody last Tuesday night, records show. The suspects were identified, according to jail records, as Demarcus V. Smith, of the 1500 block of Rock House Road, Thomson and Joseph Earl Collins, of the 1500 block of Hobbs Mill Road, Dearing.

The suspects were each charged with one count of aggravated battery and one count of robbery by force, records show. They were taken by deputies to the McDuffie County Law Enforcement Center.

Deputy Robert Hoffman responded to an assault call at the emergency room of McDuffie Regional Medical Center in Thomson shortly before 7:30 p.m. last Tuesday, according to an incident report filed by the lawman.

Deputy Hoffman said he spoke to the victim and his girlfriend and the assault and robbery occurred at Chalker's Gas Station, located at the intersection of Harrison and White Oak roads.

The victim said when he walked inside the business, a black man approached him and asked which gang he was with. When the victim said he wasn't with a gang, the assailant told him he was in a "red" area.

As the victim turned, he was struck in the face by another man, also described as black. The victim said he fell to the floor and that one of the two men got on top of him and began repeatedly striking him in the face and head.

The victim's girlfriend told Deputy Hoffman that she saw what had happened and that she got out of a car and went to try to break up the assault.

Web posted on Thursday, February 25, 2010

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