18-year-old accused of using Mace, sickening 30 at Safeway - WFSB 3 Connecticut

18-year-old accused of using Mace, sickening 30 at Safeway

Elisha Nichols Elisha Nichols
March 6 March 6

An 18-year-old is accused of releasing Mace inside a St. Helens Safeway store, causing more than 30 people to receive medical treatment.

Elisha Nichols, 18, of Rainier, was arrested Monday on charges including 31 counts of assault, 31 counts of recklessly endangering another person and unlawful use of a stun gun, tear gas or Mace.

Investigators said Nichols, along with an underage suspect, released the substance into the air of the grocery store at 5:45 p.m. March 6.

Investigators have not yet said why the Mace was released inside of the Safeway, or how exactly it was done.

It forced the evacuation of about 100 people. One person was transported to the hospital, while 30 others were treated by paramedics at a neighboring business.

"I just can't believe it, it was almost more soothing to think it was an accident, not that someone did it on purpose" said Jeanette Johnston.

Johnston was inside of the Safeway at the time of the incident, and was one of many who received medical attention for her injuries.

"I still felt dizzy just from the coughing and it took a while to recover, the last couple of days since, I had a headache and it just felt like I was getting over a cold," said Johnston.

Fire investigators later identified the two suspects and said releasing the Mace was not believed to be an accident.

Nichols' bail is set at nearly $400,000.  Her family declined to comment to FOX 12 about the arrest.

"You know, luckily no one elderly, or asthmatic was really affected, it could have been more than a simple prank, someone could have been really hurt," said Johnston.

Copyright 2013 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.