Suspect in DE hatchet attack turns himself in

    It’s the second incident in a week involving a hatchet. But police don’t believe it’s the start of a trend.

    A Wilmington man accused of using a hatchet to assault another man has surrendered to authorities, according to State Police.

    Police say 21-year-old Thomas Cottingham, whose street name is Cannibal, turned himself in late Wednesday after hearing about the extensive media coverage of the assault.

    Authorities say Cottingham and another man met the victim in the parking lot of Claymont Elementary School Monday night to pick up some jewelry. They say while the victim was talking to the second man, Cottingham snuck up behind the victim and struck him in the back of the head with a hatchet.

    The victim then dropped to the ground where he was allegedly punched and kicked. Police say Cottingham then threw the hatchet through the victim’s car window.

    The victim was transported to Christiana Hospital where he was treated for a fractured skull and a laceration to his head.

    Authorities believe the attack was motivated by a dispute over a woman.

    “This appears to have been a personal situation,” said Senior Cpl. Jeff Whitmarsh of the Delaware State Police. “It was domestic related and then stemming from that, we believe the attack was probably pre-planned.”

    Cottingham faces first-degree assault, second-degree conspiracy and criminal mischief charges.

    Whitmarsh says it’s not the first local incident involving a hatchet.

    “We’ve had two separate hatchet attacks — believe it or not — in the last week,” he said. “The first one involved a robbery at a local Home Depot. I’ve been the Public Information Officer for five years and this is the first time that I’ve seen this type of attack involving a hatchet.”

    But Whitmarsh says he does not believe a trend is starting.

    “I think it’s pure coincidence from what I can tell,” he said. “If I see a third one then we can have another conversation.”

    Police say there is no further information for the second suspect in this incident.

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