Bear spray attack sends Harbour Landing Walmart customers running

A photo taken by Trina Agopsowicz shows abandoned shopping carts in the Harbour Landing Walmart on June 12. Supplied / Trina Agopsowicz

One minute Trina Agopsowicz was shopping for groceries at the Walmart in Harbour Landing, the next minute she was grabbing water to splash her burning eyes.

Agopsowicz was one of several customers who fell victim to a bear spray attack at the Grasslands Walmart on Friday.

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As Agopsowicz describes it, the incident had customers coughing, their eyes burning and people and children gasping for air as they fled the store.

“I never thought going for groceries on a Friday night would lead to getting bear sprayed,” Agopsowicz said.

According to the Regina Police Service, the incident happened at around 8:20 p.m.

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“The only blessing in disguise was the store was so quiet,” said Agopsowicz, who spent all day Saturday soaking her swollen and sore eyes with cold milk.

Police say the incident started when a man was bear-sprayed in the Walmart. It resulted in customers, staff and children feeling the effects.

Agopsowicz was shopping in the kitchenware aisle when she suddenly heard customers around her coughing.

Concerned, Agopsowicz turned the corner to avoid the area, but within seconds she gets hit with the bear spray that was lingering in the air.

“My eyes were burning, my nose was burning. My throat felt like it was closing in. I couldn’t stop coughing. It got to a point where I thought, oh my god, I’m actually going to throw up in an aisle in Walmart.”

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Agopsowicz says she and other customers left the area, but the spray quickly spread throughout the store. Staff directed her and others to leave while an announcement came through the speakers telling people to “abandon their carts and leave immediately.”

Regina police attended the scene. The male who got bear-sprayed did not require medical attention. The suspect was nowhere to be found.

The Grasslands Walmart in the Harbour Landing neighbourhood. Justin Bukoski / Global News

“This was nothing like I have experienced before,” Agopsowicz said.

“I wouldn’t wish this upon my worst enemy that’s for sure. This was the last thing I expected going to Walmart on a Friday night getting groceries.”

After the store was cleared 20 minutes later, customers were allowed back in, which should have never happened said Agopsowicz.

“From a safety reason, I don’t think anybody should have been allowed back in the store. Should have shut down last night, and closed (Saturday) too.”

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A Walmart manager confirmed to Global News the store has been reopened, but he declined to comment further on the situation as he wasn’t working Friday. Global News has reached out multiple times to Walmart.

“I now understand how (bear) spray can take a very large individual down. It was horrific. Horrific for all involved who were just going about their Friday night, getting groceries, some toys for kids. Completely unnecessary and uncalled for somebody to do this. I hope they catch the person,” Agopsowicz.

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“Families were in there with their kids and they were exposed to that. It’s pretty ridiculous.”

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