ST. HELENS, Ore. – Police arrested an 18-year-old woman and a minor who they said sprayed pepper spray in a St. Helens Safeway store, sickening several people last week.
Thirty people were evacuated from the store and one man was taken to a hospital on Wednesday afternoon after people in the building complained about feeling light-headed or having difficulty breathing.
Police arrested 18-year-old Elisha Kimberly Nicholes of Rainier, Ore. and a minor.
A witness said large numbers of people inside the store started coughing, which led to the evacuation.
A hazmat team could not find the cause after checking refrigeration units and other areas in the store, said Columbia River Fire and Rescue Chief Jay Tappan. Tappan said all the people had been inside the Safeway store on Columbia River Highway when the symptoms set in.
One middle-aged man was taken to the hospital as a precaution. The others were treated on the scene.
Video inside the store was reviewed and showed everyone getting sick at much the same time.
St. Helens Police Chief Steven Salle said the two suspects face 31 counts each of assault in the fourth degree and criminal mischief. They also face charges of reckless endangering and improper discharge of mace.