Lethbridge Police continue to investigate an assault that resulted in an evacuation and closure of Park Place Mall Saturday afternoon after a subject was pepper sprayed inside the south doors.
On March 12, 2016 at approximately 5:12 p.m. police responded to multiple reports that a male was being chased along 1 Avenue South by several males – including one with a knife – and had been pepper sprayed in the south entrance of Park Place Mall. Police located the 26-year-old victim near the food court suffering from the effects of the bear spray. No other victims were located and witnesses reported the subjects responsible had fled. The victim was treated by Fire/EMS and then detained by police for questioning.
As a result of the pepper spray contamination, Park Place administration made the decision to close the mall and police assisted with the evacuation of the building. The mall remained closed while the Fire Department completed a Hazmat decontamination process but is scheduled to re-open today.
Further investigation determined the 26-year-old victim had been at the mall earlier in the afternoon with a group of friends when they were approached by a second group who briefly engaged them in conversation. Both groups left the mall and just after 5 p.m. the victim and his friends returned to the area and observed the second group exit a gold/bronze SUV and begin to approach them. One of the males in the advancing group pulled a knife and the victim ran towards the south entrance with the group chasing him. He was then bear-sprayed by one of the males and the subjects fled the area prior to police arrival.
Police have identified one of the subject males and are currently attempting to locate him, but the male who pulled the knife has not yet been identified. He was, however, recorded on video surveillance and an image is included for release.
The unknown male pictured is described as Aboriginal, in his 20s, with an average build. He was wearing a grey hoodie, black pants, had acne on his face and was in possession of a large knife.
Police are also working to identify a third male in the offending group (no surveillance images available) who is described as Aboriginal, in his 20s, tall with a stocky build, wearing all black clothing with some red accents.
The motive of the attack isn’t entirely clear at this time, but there is no evidence to suggest an ongoing risk to the general public.
The investigation, with assistance from the Blood Tribe Police Service, is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 403-328-4444 or Crime Stoppers 1-800-222-8477. Anonymous tips can also be submitted online at www.tipsubmit.com