GREELEY, Colo. — Several people were treated for bear spray exposure Sunday in a Greeley Walmart after a shoplifting suspect allegedly used the spray to get away from employees trying to detain him, police said.
According to the Greeley Police Department, store employees tried to stop a shoplifter Sunday around 1:35 p.m. at the Walmart at 920 47th Avenue when the man allegedly deployed bear spray to get away.
Police said because customers were fleeing from the spree, the Weld County Regional Dispatch Center received multiple calls about somebody spraying bear spray, as well as a possible active shooter situation.
Police quickly determined there was no active shooter or guns involved in the incident.
Police said the suspect fled in a vehicle and the store was evacuated as a safety precaution. Greeley EMS treated five people for exposure to the spray.
Early Monday morning, police released more information on the suspect, who was taken into custody. Police said that store associates had tried to detain Vince Joe Pacheco, 29, for allegedly shoplifting and he had deployed bear spray at three employees. A 70-year-old man then tried to subdue Pacheco, but was hit in the head with the bear spray, which caused the can to rupture, police said.
Pacheco fled to a nearby store to wash his face. Greeley police found the vehicle he had fled in along the 100 block of E. 20th Street and established a perimeter. They were able to convince him to surrender and he was taken into custody at 9:20 p.m.
He faces the following charges: third-degree assault on an at-risk elderly person, aggravated robbery, third-degree assault and theft.
The Greeley Walmart reopened around 7:40 p.m.
The Greeley Police Department is asking anyone with information to call 970-350-9605.