Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Robbers Strip Man of Wheels; Armed Carjackers Take Disabled Victim's SUV and Part of His Wheelchair

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Robbers Strip Man of Wheels; Armed Carjackers Take Disabled Victim's SUV and Part of His Wheelchair

Article excerpt

St. Louis - Christopher McClendon saw the tip of the handgun and promised his attackers he wouldn't make any false moves.

Just leave me with my wheelchair and let me live, he pleaded.

McClendon said he was driving through St. Louis' Dutchtown neighborhood Thursday morning when two robbers - one with a gun - approached the driver's side of his SUV and ordered him to get out.

The robbers pulled him into the street and drove off in his silver 1999 Mercedes ML320, a gift from his mother when he started college two years ago. He can't understand why they would pick him, a paraplegic and junior legal studies major at Webster University.

"I really just want to close my eyes and wake up and start all over again," said McClendon, 25, of St. Louis. "I can't believe this has happened."

McClendon said he was paralyzed from the waist down when he was struck by a drunken driver in St. Louis as he and his mother walked to church one Christmas Eve in 1994.

He said he was driving his specially equipped SUV to pick up his girlfriend about 7 a.m. Thursday when he stopped at Meramec Street and Ray Avenue to check a bad axle. McClendon looked into the back seat to retrieve his wheelchair, and as he did so, two robbers approached, according to police.

One of the robbers pointed a gun through the open driver's side window, McClendon said. They demanded money and ordered him out of the car. Then they pulled him out.

"I begged repeatedly for my wheelchair," McClendon said. "I was bawling and crying and asking them to give me my wheels."

The robbers tossed the body of the wheelchair out of the vehicle before leaving the scene but left the detached rear wheels in the vehicle before speeding off, McClendon said.

He said he then scooted along the pavement and hid behind a parked truck until he could flag down a woman walking by. McClendon said he borrowed her cellphone to call police.

The SUV, which has at least 120,000 miles on it and was modified so that he could drive it, was a gift from his mother when he started classes at Webster University, McClendon said. …

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