Saskatoon police say 3 bear spray calls in 1 day is part of trend
“I wouldn’t consider it a rise in pepper spray or bear spray incidences in Saskatoon,” Supt. Randy Huisman said.
“We’ve been dealing with this for about three to five years now.”
Huisman said bear spray had become “a standard tool in the arsenal of gang members” in Saskatoon and that police had responded to its use 80 and 110 times over the previous years.
He said he believed it became popular because it is easy to use and because it can incapacitate several people at once.
WATCH: (Nov. 13, 2017) Bear spray being used as weapon of choice in recent Calgary assaults
“Those conducting home invasions or robberies or street robberies,” he said, “are utilizing bear spray, bear spray and knives or bear spray and guns.”
He said it was part of an increase in weapons offences across the city.
In one of the uses of bear spray on Monday, a gun was fired at a house in the Westmount neighbourhood with the suspects then spraying it into the house through the bullet holes. The incident remains under investigation.
In a statement released on Monday, police said they responded to a woman reporting that she had been sprayed with bear spray while walking home from a bus stop. The suspect or suspects attempted to steal the woman’s backpack before the victim fled.
Another statement put out on Monday said a man had been arrested after threatening to use a can of bear spray.
Police said that a 12-year-old boy was arrested on Tuesday after using bear spray on three or four people.
Huisman said that people found with bear spray can face charges of possession of a weapon. He said the use of bear spray warrants an assault with a weapon charge.
Health Canada restricts the sale of bear spray.
Would-be buyers must show a government photo ID, be 18 years of age and have their personal information kept on file at the store. They must also sign a waiver stating that they will only use the product as a deterrent for bears and dogs.
At Cabela’s, the canisters are kept behind the sales counter in the firearms department and must be handed to a customer by a store employee.
Wayne Yakielashek, the general manager of Cabela’s, said that a sale will be cancelled if a customer makes any comment otherwise.
“Just like when you’re in the airport and you say ‘I have a bomb, you can’t take it back and say ‘I’m just kidding,’” he said.
Huisman said bear spray was coming from sporting goods stores but didn’t elaborate as to which stores or the effectiveness of the screening process.
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