‘Really traumatic’: Winnipeg store workers attacked with bear spray

A Winnipeg store owner is calling for stricter penalties for using bear mace on people after several of his staff members were hit with the spray.

Rick Shone, the owner of Wilderness Supply, said two people tried to shoplift at the Isabel Street store on Saturday, but when confronted, one of them pulled out bear spray and used it on staff.

“It was really traumatic for the employees and it took hours for it to wear off as well, so it’s a really unfortunate incident,” Shone said in an interview on Sunday.

Shone said five employees ended up feeling the bear spray.

He estimates the incident cost him around $3,000 dollars between the cleanup and damaged items. This does not factor in being forced to close during one of the busiest times in retail.

“Lost a lot of merchandise. It wasn’t stolen, but it is damaged because of the bear spray, and we had to hire cleaners to professionally clean this space. We did compensate our employees that were supposed to come in today,” noted Shone.

Shone said he sells bear spray at his store but, keeps it locked in the back and requires customers to fill out paperwork and show valid ID before purchasing. He said these are precautions some other retailers skip, especially online.

“But I did just do a little test this morning and tried to buy it. I was able to buy it successfully in about two minutes online, and I could get it delivered to my house in four days, so it’s a big problem,” explained Shone.

The Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) said the incident is being investigated as a robbery, with no arrest made so far.

According to the WPS, there were 528 incidents involving bear spray in the first half of this year.

While they don’t have year-end numbers yet, they estimate there to be around 1,200 — a nearly 40 per cent increase from last year and an 80 per cent jump from 2020.

The Manitoba government acknowledged the issue of bear spray in September. The justice minister asked the Federal Department of Justice to change the Criminal Code to include modified bear spray as a prohibited weapon and to make it more difficult for those who use it to assault people to obtain bail.

These are potential changes Shone would also like to see.

“This was a really senseless act,” he said. “It was a very short period of time, eight to 10 seconds, caused significant trauma to the staff and also a lot of damage to the property of our store,” he said.

Shone said the can of bear spray used in his store was blacked out with tape and was concealed before use.

CTV News Winnipeg reached out to the justice minister’s office but did not hear back.

View original article here Source