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Duluth man charged in stabbing at Gateway Tower

The defendant has a history of mental illness, according to court records.

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DULUTH — A 29-year-old remained in critical condition Monday as the man who allegedly stabbed him was arraigned in State District Court.

Thomas Eugene Orth, 49, was charged with first- and second-degree assault in the Friday morning incident at Gateway Tower, 600 W. Superior St. A criminal complaint states that the attack left Connor David Bakk with at least four stab wounds.

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Thomas Eugene Orth

Duluth police were called to a bus shelter near the apartment building shortly after 7:30 a.m., finding Bakk on the sidewalk with two stab wounds to his chest, one to his forearm and one to his armpit, according to the complaint.

Bakk was "in and out of consciousness," but able to identify the perpetrator and state that the weapon involved was "black-handled (with) knuckles on it," the complaint states. Bakk was taken to a local hospital, where authorities said he remained intubated Monday.

Police said surveillance video confirmed that the stabbing had occurred at Orth's third-floor apartment. Officers went to the unit, finding Orth wearing bloody jeans, with additional splatter on the floor and walls.

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Orth, who did not have any injuries, was described as "cooperative," declining an interview as he was taken into custody but asking, "Is Connor OK?"

"Defendant made random, unsolicited comments about people stealing his keys and driving his car and then commented about getting another tattoo in prison," the complaint notes.

During a search of the apartment, investigators said they found a "black, brass knuckle-style knife that appeared to have blood on it," a bloody cellphone with the name "Connor" on it, and other items belonging to Bakk.

Court records show several prior convictions for Orth, including assault, theft and controlled substance crimes — but most occurring in the 1990s, and nothing on his record since a traffic violation in 2009.

Orth has been civilly committed on at least three occasions for mental health and/or chemical dependency treatment, according to records.

Judge Dale Harris set Orth's bail at $75,000.

Tom Olsen has covered crime and courts for the Duluth News Tribune since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and a lifelong resident of the city. Readers can contact Olsen at 218-723-5333 or tolsen@duluthnews.com.
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