An accused shoplifter doused four Walmart workers trying to detain him with bear spray, forcing the store to evacuate, Colorado police reported.
The 29-year-old man, who escaped in the chaos Sunday, Dec. 5, was later arrested, the Greeley Police Department said in a news release.
The incident began when three Walmart employees tried to detain the man, accusing him of shoplifting, at 1:35 p.m. Mountain time, police wrote.
The man doused them with bear spray, then hit a 70-year-old worker who came to their aid in the head with the can, rupturing it, the release said.
Initial reports of a gun being fired in the store were inaccurate, police said in an earlier release, but the Walmart had to be evacuated for hours because of the bear spray.
The accused shoplifter escaped in a vehicle but stopped at a nearby store to wash his face, police said.
The Walmart employees and some customers were treated for exposure to the spray, police said. The store reopened at 7:40 p.m.
Police tracked the accused shoplifter’s vehicle to his home and arrested him on suspicion of assault on an at-risk elder, aggravated robbery, assault and theft, the release said.
Bear spray is a chemical irritant aerosol spray intended to be used to drive off bears in the wild, The Washington Post reported. It’s a type of pepper spray devised from chile peppers.
Investigators ask that anyone with information on the incident call 970-350-9605.