Update: Ashley Todd perpetrated a hoax.  We have that in a separate post by Allahpundit.  Be sure to read that in detail, but my overall reaction is that Todd is a very, very disturbed young woman.  — Ed

Original post:

A 20-year-old woman got robbed at an ATM in a Pittsburgh suburb, and normally that would not make national news.  However, her robber wanted to make a political statement as well.  After seeing a McCain bumper sticker on her car, he beat the woman and scratched a “B” into her face:

A 20-year-old woman who was robbed at an ATM in Bloomfield was also maimed by her attacker, police said.

Pittsburgh police spokeswoman Diane Richard tells Channel 4 Action News that the victim was robbed at knifepoint on Wednesday night outside of a Citizens Bank near Liberty Avenue and Pearl Street just before 9 p.m.

Richard said the robber took $60 from the woman, then became angry when he saw a McCain bumper sticker on the victim’s car. The attacker then punched and kicked the victim, before using the knife to scratch the letter “B” into her face, Richard said.

This is a horrible story, and if it happened as alleged, I hope the man gets life in prison for both the armed robbery and the maiming.  Our prayers go to the woman, who refused medical treatment at the scene, as well as our hopes for a quick and complete recovery.

However, despite the comments popping up in other threads, I don’t think this says anything terribly significant about the election or either candidate.  Criminals aren’t known for their kindness, temperament, or intellect, and this particular criminal sounds like he’s a couple of bricks short of a load even for that crowd.  The initial crime had nothing to do with politics at all, so it’s not an example of partisan thuggery as one would expect some to paint it.

I’m sure that the two campaigns will be sure to reach out to the woman.  Someone will undoubtedly press the Obama campaign for a reaction, and will get the obligatory and emphatic denunciation that everyone would expect.  We have many more important issues to debate, and many more cogent reasons to oppose Barack Obama than the offhand cruelty of one criminal in Pittsburgh.

Update (AP): Good points from Ace. I notice that Drudge has quietly moved the story from blaring red-font banner to upper-lefthand teaser.

Update II (Ed): The woman who was attacked has identified herself as Ashley Todd, who is a College Republican field representative.  Here’s the photo:

It looks like Ashley did get beaten pretty badly, and she does have a ‘B’ scratched into her cheek.  It’s not a rumor.  Hopefully, we’ll get more from the local media as the story develops, or from Ashley herself.

Update III: I agree with people in the comments who say that the beating and maiming were political, and obviously so.  Ashley wouldn’t have that wound on her face otherwise.  What I am saying is that it’s unfair to generalize about Obama supporters based on the actions of one nut.

I would also agree, though, that the media didn’t have any problems doing the same thing to the McCain campaign based on one comment allegedly yelled at a rally, and for that matter, neither did Barack Obama during the last debate.

Update IV: Let’s remember that Bill Gwatney got shot to death in an Arkansas Democratic HQ in June.  It’s dangerous to generalize on partisan lines when discussing one disturbing act of violence.

Update V: Some people are already saying “hoax”; I think that’s unlikely (but still possible).  Thanks to the local news report, we know the attack occurred.  Not too many young women would scar their faces just to create a political hoax.  As for the reversed/upside-down B, all I can tell you is that I got this from a source close to Ashley, who assured me that she wanted to go public (it was also on her Twitter page) and that the photo came directly from her.  It could have gotten reversed on the computer, or the attacker may have had her on the ground with her head upside-down in relation to his.

Update VI: Here’s a video report on the attack from KDKA-TV (via the Newsbusters).

Update VII: I spoke with two executives at the College Republicans on the record about this story.  Charlie Smith, the National Chair, and Ethan Eilon, the Executive Director, both say the photo is legitimate and that it came from Ashley Todd, the victim in this case.  The attack began at 8:50 pm ET and Ashley called the police at 9:30 PM ET. Initially, she was robbed, ran away after the robbery, and the robber followed her to her car.  At that point, he became enraged at the bumper sticker and began beating her and scratched the ‘B’ into her face. Ashley went to the hospital early this morning after initially refusing medical attention last night, and had an MRI and/or a CAT scan. Doctors believe her cheek will heal fully.

Eilon spoke with her personally today about the incident and confirmed the above with me.  He first met Ashley in June, when she came to DC for training with the College Republicans.  She works for them as a contract employee.  She does not work for the McCain campaign.  Both Eilon and Smith expressed revulsion over an attack on a young woman just getting involved in politics, but they consider this the act of a lone lunatic.

I’m not going to blame people for keeping a healthy skepticism on this case, but so far, the two media reports appear to check out.

Update VIII: The police want to administer a polygraph:

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.

But:

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

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.