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Published: Thursday, 3/11/2010

Toledo robbers employ Taser unit in attack

BY BRIDGET THARP
BLADE STAFF WRITER

In an incident that Toledo police say marks the first time a Taser device was used to commit a violent crime in the city, one of three men fired at an 18-year-old they were attempting to rob in central Toledo.

No arrests were made yesterday.

The victim, Michael McGhee, of South Toledo, was walking with two friends near Swiler Drive and Milburn Avenue about 9 p.m. Tuesday when the trio drove by in a pickup and yelled at them, police said.

The driver of the truck pointed the Taser device at Mr. McGhee, demanded cash, and then shot Mr. McGhee in the chest.

The victim managed to disconnect the wires from the barbs that were stuck under his skin, and he and his two friends fled in opposite directions.

They were chased by two men who were passengers in the pickup, police said.

Mr. McGhee recounted the crime to police from the emergency room at Toledo Hospital, where medical personnel removed the barbs from his chest.

The manufacturer said its product has rarely been used in criminal attacks, according to a spokesman.

Though stun guns - which require direct contact to subdue a person - have been used by criminals in the city before, the incident marks the first time that a Taser device with wire barbs has been used as a weapon to commit a violent act, said Toledo police Capt. Ray Carroll, head of the crimes against persons unit.

"It is very rare for an electronic control device to be used in a crime," said Toledo police Lt. Mark King, who instructs police officers on the use of Taser devices.

The Taser brand of electronic shock devices is known as the only one on the market that deploys the unique wired barbs that struck this victim, Lieutenant King said.

It was unclear yesterday whether the device used against Mr. McGhee was specially made for police or consumers.

Consumer models sell for between $350 and $450 from the manufacturer's Web site.



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