McCain worker says man scratched 'B' into her face

| Friday, Oct. 24, 2008

A knife-wielding man robbed a McCain-Palin campaign volunteer and etched a "B" into her face after he saw a McCain bumper sticker on her car, the woman told Pittsburgh police.

Police planned to administer a polygraph test to Ashley Todd, 20, because her statements about the attack conflict with evidence from the Citizens Bank ATM where she claims the incident occurred, police said.

Todd, of College Station, Texas, told police she was using an ATM at Liberty Avenue and Pearl Street in Bloomfield just before 9 p.m. Wednesday when a man approached her, put a knife to her throat and demanded money.

Todd told police she handed the man $60 she had in her pocket and stepped away from him. The man then noticed the bumper sticker on her car, which was parked in front of the ATM, and became angry, she told police.

He made comments to Todd about Republican presidential candidate John McCain and punched her in the back of the head, knocking her to the ground, police said Todd told them.

"He continued to kick and punch her repeatedly and said he would teach her a lesson for supporting John McCain," said police Chief Nate Harper.

The man scratched a backward "B" onto Todd's right cheek, she told police. Todd, who isn't familiar with the area, drove to a friend's house nearby. She told her friend she wasn't sure of the exact location the robbery happened but remembered a green sign above the ATM.

The friend called police and an officer met them at his house. They drove along Liberty Avenue until Todd saw a Citizens Bank ATM that looked familiar, police said.

Police said Todd declined medical treatment at the scene. Her friend, a law student at University of Pittsburgh, said he took her to UPMC Shadyside for treatment.

"Initially when the police came and took the report she didn't want to go, but we convinced her, " he said.

Todd declined to comment. Her friend said she is a student at Texas A&M University.

"She is a volunteer for the McCain-Palin campaign," said campaign spokesman Peter Feldman. "Sen. McCain has reached out to her via telephone and has spoken to her and her family," as has McCain's running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Feldman said. "Out of respect for her privacy we're not going to comment further."

Democrat Barack Obama's campaign released a statement saying: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the young woman for her to make a speedy recovery, and we hope that the person who perpetrated this crime is swiftly apprehended and brought to justice."

Police said she described the attacker as black, about 6-foot-4, and said he was wearing dark-colored jeans and a black tank top. She said he had a knife with a 5-inch blade and ran from the scene on foot, Harper said.

"We are treating this as a credible report," he said.

The ATM has a security camera, and investigators were trying to watch the video.

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