A teenager from Edmonton has been arrested after a store was robbed in a Maple Ridge mall using, what witnesses described, as bear spray.
Police were called to ValleyFair Mall, along Lougheed Highway, between 227 and 228 Streets, at around 5:30 p.m. after receiving multiple calls about a robbery in progress.
According to witness statements to police, two men went into a store and attempted to break a display cabinet with a hammer.
“At one point during the incident a noxious substance, described by witnesses as ‘bear spray’ was deployed by the suspects,” said Sgt. Scott Grimmer with the Ridge Meadows detachment.
Although initial reports indicated that two men entered the business while two other men waited outside, Grimmer said that police are still trying to determine the actual number of suspects.
Off-duty security guard, Anne Frankel, who stopped at the mall to use the restroom, ended up being sprayed during the incident.
She said she saw two men standing facing an empty storefront – something that caught her eye as a security guard – as she chatted with a friend by a lottery store who was working security at the mall.
All of a sudden she heard glass breaking and a woman screaming. When her friend went running towards the commotion, she followed, calling 911, she said.
Frankel said one person was grabbed by her friend who put him in a headlock, but the other two boys “booked”. And another, she said, came out of the store and began spraying the mall.
“He was just shooting it,” she said of the spray that left everybody coughing and gagging.
Then she heard more glass breaking.
Frankel believed there were four culprits involved in the robbery.
Frankel’s partner, who was waiting outside for her, said she recognized a person she knew from a former building she lived at, who was six months pregnant who had to be taken to hospital as a precaution.
She was thankful the robbers didn’t use guns.
BC Emergency Health Services confirmed three ground ambulances responded an incident at a mall in the 22700 block of Lougheed Hwy. in Maple Ridge.
Paramedics cared for several patients at the scene and transported one patient to hospital, said a BCEHS spokesperson.
A 19-year-old Edmonton man is currently being held for court proceedings, said Sgt. Grimmer.
The Ridge Meadows RCMP’s Street Enforcement Unit will be investigating. No further details are available at this time, he said.
Anyone who witnessed the incident or have possible dash cam footage from the area, who have not already spoken with police, are being asked to contact Ridge Meadows RCMP at 604-463-6251 and refer to file number 22-14598.
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