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Robbers take SUV, wheelchair wheels
ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis police are searching for two men who robbed a handicapped man of his SUV -- and the wheels off his wheelchair.
Christopher McClendon was driving to pick up his girlfriend Thursday morning when he stopped to check a bad axle. Two men approached. One stuck a gun through the driver's side window of his specially equipped 1999 Mercedes ML320 and ordered him to get out.
McClendon complied but asked that they let him keep his wheelchair.
"I begged repeatedly for my wheelchair," McClendon said. "I was bawling and crying and asking them to give me my wheels."
McClendon is a 25-year-old college student at Webster University. He became a paraplegic after being struck by a drunken driver as he and his mother were walking to church on Christmas Eve in 1994.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the robbers dumped the wheelchair but removed and kept the detachable rear wheels before speeding off.
McClendon said he scooted along the pavement and hid behind a parked truck before flagging down a woman walking by. He used her cellphone to call police.
"I was really in fear of my life," he said.
Two St. Louis police officers carried McClendon into their squad car and drove him and the inoperable wheelchair to his home. Police recovered the vehicle Thursday evening.
McClendon lives with his mother and teenage brother. Kenya Ellis said she's long hoped that her son would be able to live on his own. Just getting him to the point where he could drive was a big step in that direction. She was at a loss to explain how someone could have treated her son so callously.
Later Thursday, McClendon received a temporary replacement wheelchair from a medical supplies vendor.