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Possible pepper spray forces evacuation of Riverton Walmart

Published September 15, 2012 9:30 pm

Police and fire • 80 people treated for exposure to irritating substance.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Unified Police Department late Saturday was looking for three people suspected of spraying what appeared to be a can of pepper spray inside a Walmart in Riverton, causing minor injuries to dozens of people inside.

Lt. Justin Hoyal said a man dressed in a black T-shirt and black jeans and wearing a light-colored cowboy hat began spraying a substance throughout the store with an aerosol spray can. Two others, a man and a woman, were seen with him, Hoyal said.

About 80 people in the store were evacuated after they began feeling irritation to their eyes and throats and multiple calls to 911 were placed from the store at about 4:15 p.m., according to Unified Fire Authority spokesman Cliff Burningham.

Most of the victims were treated on scene while two others — a woman and a teenage boy — were taken to a hospital for further treatment. They were in stable condition, Burningham said. Twelve fire crews and hazardous materials teams responded to the scene.

The symptoms displayed by the victims, which included Walmart employees and shoppers, led investigators to believe the man used pepper spray.

Burningham said that at about 7 p.m., store employees were let back inside the store, located at 13502 Hamilton View Drive (3600 West), to clean up. The store was reopened to shoppers at about 9 p.m.

The Salt Lake Valley Health Department was on scene, and Burningham said the department might request the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food to inspect the store's produce to see if it can be sold after the contamination.

Store surveillance footage released by police show the three walking in and out of the store together. The man in the cowboy hat is seen holding hands with the woman, who has long brown hair and was wearing a red T-shirt with a Coca-Cola logo on it. The other man has short blond hair and was wearing a tan-colored shirt with cut-off sleeves. They were described as being 18- or 19-years-old.

Anyone with information about their identities is encouraged to call Unified Police at 801-743-7000.







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