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Firefighter beat to death with golf club by son while trying to prevent woman from being attacked

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Jefferson County — A 27-year-old man was charged Thursday with fatally beating his father with a golf club and a bottle after the father tried to stop his son from attacking a woman at the family home near Hillsboro.

Nicholas Smoot is facing charged with second-degree murder, armed criminal action and second-degree domestic assault. He is being held without bond at the Jefferson County Jail.

The victim, Eric Smoot, 53, was a retired firefighter with the Hillsboro Fire Protection District. The attack happened about 3:15 a.m. Thursday at the family’s home in the 1000 block of Tracy Lane, west of Hillsboro.

Eric Smoot tried to intervene early Thursday when his son began assaulting a woman in a bedroom, police said. Nicholas Smoot turned on his father and began beating him with a golf club, according to Sheriff Dave Marshak and court documents.

As Nicholas Smoot hit his father with the golf club, the woman called 911. Police arrived to find Nicholas Smoot kneeling over his father with a bottle raised over his head, police said. Deputies intervened and, after a brief struggle, arrested Nicholas Smoot.

Eric Smoot suffered cuts to his arms and forehead and injuries to his abdomen. He was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he died just after 6 a.m. Thursday.

Fire Chief Brian Gaudet said Smoot was a retired captain with the Hillsboro district. Smoot started his firefighting career in 1981 as a volunteer, then went full-time 1991. He retired as a captain in 2014, Gaudet said.

Gaudet and many others in the district stayed in touch with Smoot in retirement.

“He loved the river. He loved to go fishing and boating,” Gaudet said. “He loved the outdoors. He tried to live life to the fullest.”

Some on the firefighters called to the scene Thursday recognized the address given by dispatchers as their friend’s home. Gaudet said it was emotional for the crews. The district had gone through something similar in 2015 when another firefighter was killed in vehicle accident.

Chaplains were scheduled to be at the fire house on Friday to check with the firefighters. “We want to make sure everyone is okay,” Gaudet said.

It was not clear Thursday if Nicholas Smoot had an attorney to speak on his behalf.

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