The mall was closed temporarily to allow emergency crews to help those in need and as part of the investigation. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)

The mall was closed temporarily to allow emergency crews to help those in need and as part of the investigation. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)

Suspects flee after robbing B.C. mall, pepper spraying bystanders

Off-duty security guard describes scene inside, ends up being one of those pepper sprayed

Valley Fair Mall in Maple Ridge was shut down as emergency crews dealt with a store robbery attempt and pepper spraying late Wednesday afternoon.

An off-duty security guard ended up being sprayed during the incident. She had stopped at the mall to use the restroom.

Anne Frankel saw two men standing facing an empty storefront, something that caught her eye as a security guard.

Frankel was near the lotto booth chatting with a friend working security in the mall when things kicked off.

“All of a sudden I heard glass break and this lady screaming,” Frankel told The News.

When her friend went running in. Frankel followed.

“I started calling 911,” she said.

One person was grabbed by security.

“The other two boys booked,” she said.

Another came out with and started spraying in the mall.

“And everybody started coughing and gagging,” she commented.

More glass was heard breaking as cases were being broken in a jewelry store.

She said she thinks four people were involved, with three getting away.

Frankel said she believes the two males outside the empty storefront were involved for various reasons.

“It’s 90 degrees weather, and you’ve got a hoodie, and you’ve got sweats,” she explained.

As well they were standing staring at an empty store and wearing dark glasses indoors.

As soon as the commotion started, the two ran off. She was able to see them exit the building but lost sight after they turned a corner and had to turn her attention to having been sprayed.

“I got sprayed so I couldn’t see after that,” Frankel said.

The mall was taped off but reopened at before 7 p.m.

• WATCH for more as information becomes available

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