Harrisburg daycare intruder used synthetic marijuana, police say

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A man used synthetic marijuana before he broke into a day care center and grabbed a child from an employee, city police confirmed Thursday.

Michael McQuay, 27, was arrested for attempted homicide and other charges following the incident Wednesday afternoon at Growing Adventures Child Care in the 2000 block of Market Street.

Police said McQuay broke a glass door to get into the building. He was holding a 5-year-old child by the neck and a man was wrestling with him to get the child out of his grasp when officers arrived just after 5 p.m.

McQuay and the child were covered in blood, and blood was all over the door and floor, police said in a news release.

One of the officers used a Taser on McQuay to get him to release the child. He was taken into custody without further incident, police said.

The child was not harmed, but police said she told officers she could not breathe while McQuay was holding her neck.

Shantel Evans, an employee, said she grabbed as many children as she could before McQuay grabbed the girl from her arms.

“I grabbed as many as I could to get them to come with me and he took one of the kids out of my arms,” Evans said. “It was awful to hear a child on the outside of the door knowing you couldn’t save her and he had her at that point.”

“I could hear him say that he did apologize to everyone,” Evans said. “He also said he was running, like someone was chasing him.”

The good Samaritan man who was wrestling with him told officers he saw McQuay earlier and believed something was wrong with him. He followed McQuay and rushed into the day care center when he saw McQuay holding the child. He attempted to talk to McQuay, then tried to force him to release the child, police said.

“He really stepped up to the plate and was able to keep this man engaged until officers could get there,” police Captain Deric Moody said.

No children or staff were injured.

McQuay was treated for his injuries at a hospital. He was then sent to Dauphin County Prison on $500,000 bail, according to court documents.

Police said he admitted to ingesting synthetic marijuana.

“You can use it one time and, depending on your chemical makeup, instant psychotic for the rest of your life,” Moody said. “It just depends on your makeup, how you absorb it. It is different for all people.”

In addition to attempted homicide, police charged McQuay with aggravated assault, burglary, public drunkenness, unlawful restraint, and three counts of reckless endangerment.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled June 5.

Pamela Blazi, director of Growing Adventures, said management is doing all it can to ensure that a similar situation does not happen in the future.

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