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Mall evacuated after teen uses bear spray in fight

BILLINGS (AP) — Billings police evacuated a mall after dozens of people were sickened by bear spray used during a confrontation between two teenagers over a girl.

Battalion Chief Terry Larson of the Billings Fire Department told the Billings Gazette ( ) 40 people had to be treated Friday evening for irritation to the eyes, throat, skin and lungs.

The treatment included a water rinse and oxygen for some people, he said.

Police Sgt. Matt Brewer said a dispute over a female acquaintance caused the conflict between 18-year-old Alex Brady and a juvenile male at Rimrock Mall. About 10 other juveniles were watching the encounter unfold.

Brady had bought the bear spray from one of the mall stores because he feared a fight, Brewer said. The teen discharged the spray when the juvenile approached him because he felt threatened, Brewer said.

Shaun Kobielusz, of Sheridan, Wyo., and his wife, Paula, said they were inside a nearby store when he saw a teen spray something that produced an orange cloud.

"All the kids covered their faces and scattered," Kobielusz said.

Paula Kobielusz said the mist burned her throat and made her nose run. Employees from the store closed the and led people out the back entrance, her husband said.

Workers and customers at both ends of the mall were affected.

Police and firefighters evacuated the entire mall. About an hour later, store managers or employees were escorted back inside so they could shut down operations and lock the stores' doors.

Larson said the cleanup was to be finished by Saturday morning.

Both Brady and the juvenile male were arrested for disorderly conduct, Brewer said.


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