Police are weighing in on the use of bear spray as a weapon after a string of incidents around Calgary.
The controlled substance was sprayed in two separate incidents this weekend and at a popular mall last month that resulted in a number of teens facing charges.
On Sunday, dozens of people were evacuated from a southeast Calgary Walmart after two men used bear spray inside its McDonald’s restaurant.
“A 50-year-old man, one of two persons who was confronted by the security guard, pulled out bear spray and sprayed the security guard directly in the face,” Insp. Michael Watterston said.
Police said both suspects used bear spray.
A few hours later, police said bear spray was used in another incident inside the Shoppers Drug Mart at Market Mall.
Last month, five youths were arrested after a bear spray attack at CrossIron Mills.
Police said the use of bear spray as a weapon is a bit of a grey area for them since it is legal to carry the controlled substance around if you’re over the age of 18.
“It’s accessible, it’s easy to get, it’s relatively inexpensive,” Insp. Watterston said. “Bear spray has its value for Calgarians that are outdoors folks.”
Local stores that sell bear spray, like Campers Village, use precaution when selling the product.
“We’ll ask them for I.D., they’ll fill out a form with all of their mailing address and information and we’ll check to make sure they are who they say they are,” said Geoff Vance, with Campers Village. “It can do a lot of harm in the wrong hands and the wrong situation, so that’s why we want to keep track of who has got it.”
Bear spray can also be harmful to people caught in the contaminated air.
Eliane Marois-McKenzie and her daughter witnessed the McDonald’s attack. She says they were standing in line when all of a sudden, they couldn’t breathe and the commotion broke out.
“My throat is sore,” Marois-McKenzie said. “I puked a lot. That was the only way I could help myself from coughing so much.”
Police said two people were taken into custody in relation to the incident at the Walmart in Deerfoot Meadows.
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