GREELEY, Colo. — A Walmart in Greeley was closed for several hours after police said a suspected shoplifter assaulted employees with bear spray Sunday afternoon, leading to the evacuation of the store.
According to the Greeley Police Department (GPD), officers were called to the Walmart at 10th Street and 47th Avenue just after 1:30 p.m. on a report of someone who had sprayed employees with bear spray.
While officers were on their way, GPD said, dispatchers started getting calls reporting there was a man with a gun in the store. GPD said when they got there, officers quickly determined bear spray had been used but there was never a man with a gun.
GPD said an investigation showed that three store associates attempted to detain Vince Joe Pacheco, 29, for shoplifting. A struggled ensued and Pacheco deployed the bear spray at the store employees, police said.
A fourth employee, described as a 70-year-old man, was struck in the head with bear spray, causing the can to rupture and contaminate the store, according to GPD.
Greeley Fire and EMS treated at least five people for bear spray exposure, according to police.
Before officers arrived, Pacheco fled the store in a vehicle and and went to a nearby store to wash his face due to the bear spray exposure, GPD said. He was later located by Greeley patrol officers in the 100 block of East 20th Street and taken into custody without incident about 9:20 p.m.
Pacheco was transported to a local hospital to be medically evaluated before being transported to the Weld County jail, police said.
GPD said the store was evacuated as a safety precaution and was closed while Greeley Fire helped remove the residual spray from the store. The store reopened about 7:40 p.m., according to police.
Anyone with information on the case or who witnessed it and has not already been interviewed by officers is asked to call GPD's front desk at 970-350-9605.
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