An ambulance responds to a pepper spraying incident inside Port Alberni’s Walmart store, Wednesday night. JANIS JOSEPH PHOTO

Pepper spray incident forces closure of Port Alberni Walmart

Several patrons, staff affected by spraying incident

A pepper spraying incident has occurred at Port Alberni’s Walmart store, forcing an evacuation of staff and patrons around 7 p.m. Wednesday night.

Port Alberni resident Janis Joseph had stopped into the store to pick up a few items and was walking toward the checkout line when she noticed people were coughing.

“I stood back and felt my throat sizzle and become scratchy and walked to the clothing department to be told someone had pepper sprayed the store,” she said.

“A very frightening time.”

Joseph said staff in the customer service department were particularly affected. She headed to the washrooms at the back of the store but the pepper spray “soon wafted its way to us,” she said.

“The staff were injured, as well as the patrons. Fire and ambulance were called and we were escorted out with paper over our faces to not become more contacted by the pepper spray.”

Maureen Kelly posted on a Port Alberni community Facebook site, AV Chatter Box, that two employees had asked to check someone’s backpack and they were sprayed in the face. Kelly’s daughter was right behind the employees getting a shopping cart when the incident occurred.

Walmart has reportedly closed due to the incident.