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Thursday, June 22, 2006

New Weapon: Fulton County Deputy Kevin Burns shows his Taser X-26 stungun. Photo/Price
Taser stunguns help Fulton County officials subdue unruly man

Fulton County police said they used Taser stunguns on an Oxford man after he allegedly went on a rampage in a mobile home June 11 in Salem.

Salem Police Chief Albert Roork said Fulton County Deputy Jason Martin received a phone call from the girlfriend of Steven McMahill, 29, of Salem telling him that McMahill had threatened her life. She also told Martin that McMahill may have stolen guns from an Oxford residence.

Authorities located McMahill's van at the residence of Donnie Paul Cunningham on Shalom Park Drive. Cunningham and McMahill were friends at the time of the incident, Salem Police Chief Albert Roork said.

When Fulton County deputies Jason Martin, Kevin Burns and Terry Walker, Salem Police Chief Roork and officers Mark Long, Butch Blair and Gary Clayton arrived at the scene Cunningham and McMahill were both inside Cunningham's mobile home.

Cunningham's parole officer, Clayton, knocked on the door of Cunningham's mobile home. There was no answer but officers could see people inside the house.

"It became pretty obvious that McMahill wasn't letting Cunningham come to the door," Roork said. He said Cunningham told McMahill he knew the officers and if they went outside unarmed, they wouldn't get hurt.

Roork said officers attempted for more than three hours to get Cunningham or McMahill to come to the door. McMahill became agitated and started yelling threats at the police and breaking things, according to authorities. McMahill said he had an AR15 rifle with 24 rounds for the officers, stating that it was going to be another Iraq, according to police.

McMahill started breaking out the windows of the mobile home and propped furniture against the door. Cunningham could be heard pleading with McMahill to let him leave the trailer, authorities said.

Cunningham told McMahill he would walk out in front of him because he knew he had done nothing wrong and that the police would not harm them. McMahill kept yelling at the police, telling them they had "better have on their kevlar because they were going to need it."

Salem policeman Butch Blair said he was almost certain he saw a pistol in McMahill's hand while looking inside the house through the window. While McMahill was at the rear of the house breaking things, Cunningham was by a window in the living room which authorities helped him exit through.

Cunningham told Roork that McMahill had a .22 pistol and some ammunition in the house. He said McMahill had a gun in his hand part of the time while making threats against the police. Cunningham said the pistol was unloaded, but there was ammo for it in the house; he said he didn't know about the assault rifle.

Cunningham told Roork he was asleep with the doors unlocked when McMahill entered. Cunningham said he wanted McMahill out of his house and that McMahill was destroying all of his belongings.

Roork then sprayed pepper spray through a broken window of the residence. "We tried to make the inside as uncomfortable as possible," Roork said. "We didn't want to hurt him, and we didn't want to get hurt either."

Roork said a neighboring trailer was evacuated because bullets could easily pass through trailer walls to the outside.

McMahill eventually said he wanted to come out, but still refused to open the door.

Officers entered through the door and ordered McMahill on the floor. When he did not comply and continued to remain aggressive Burns used a stungun on McMahill, Roork said. Officers were able to handcuff and arrest McMahill after that.

Long found a pistol outside of the trailer where the window had been broken out, which Cunningham said looked like the gun McMahill wielded. Roork said the gun was the one reported stolen from an Oxford residence and McMahill probably threw it out one of the broken windows.

No other gun was found in the house.

Roork said Cunningham was not able to stay in his home that night because it was destroyed by McMahill's rampage.

McMahill faces charges of first degree terroristic threatening, a class D felony; kidnapping, a class Y felony; theft by receiving, a class C felony; possession of a firearm by certain persons, a class B felony; and first degree criminal mischief, a class C felony.

McMahill will be arraigned in Fulton County Circuit Court July 7 at the Courthouse, Sheriff Walter Dillinger said. McMahill is currently in the Fulton County Jail. His bond is currently $50,000, reduced from an original $150,000.

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