Miami International Mall robbery: Candle thief sprays bear repellent, injures 30 before fleeing
The man who robbed Bath and Body Works store injured 30 people after spraying them with bear mace while escaping. The mall was also evacuated
"This is one of those ‘only in Miami’ stories," Doral Police spokesperson Rey Valdes said, which is perhaps an apt summary of the incident. In a rather strange case, a Florida man robbed a Bath and Body Works store at the Miami International Mall, then escaped after spraying everyone with bear spray on July 17. Police are still on the hunt for the man, who has left 30 people requiring treatment and then fled the mall in a taxi.
Back in February, we reported on another bizarre robbery in Los Angeles. A man robbed Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles in Pasadena after being refused service for not wearing a mask. Thankfully, there were no injuries in both these cases, which hasn't always been true. A 20-year-old Tennessee man was shot and killed after a robbery prank for YouTube went wrong in February. Then in June, we reported on a robbery at a Dunkin Donuts in Philadelphia that led to the death of the store's manager.
Police are yet to identify the man in the Miami mall incident, which required the mall to be evacuated and several people to be treated on the spot. Here's the bizarre story that stunned the city over the weekend and everything we know so far.
What happened at Miami International Mall?
According to reports, the unidentified man robbed the store on Saturday, July 1, for some candles. He reportedly took two bags of candles by force and then sprayed everyone in his way as he ran out. The store manager was sprayed with bear spray straight in the face and required hospitalization. Others, who weren't even near the man were also affected. "We started coughing, actually, where we were and we weren't even that close," one shopper told NBC Miami. "We felt it. We could smell it. We could breathe it."
Around 15 of those injured were reportedly employees of the Bath and Body Works store, and others were all shoppers. In total, around 30 people had to be treated after being attacked. It was reported that a portion of the mall was also evacuated, as a precautionary measure. Meanwhile, the suspect managed to flee the mall in a yellow cab. Valdes told CNN "you can't make this up," and added that the individual is "potentially looking at 30 to 35 felonies."
It's unclear where the man fled to, police are still on the lookout for him. Meanwhile, social media saw the funny side of the story, once it was reported.
'What an unbearable situation'
One person responded, "Atleast we can for sure say there won’t be any bears there anytime soon." Another asked, "Yeah, the candles are pretty good but, really?" One person went with the pun, "What an unbearable situation…"
Atleast we can for sure say there won’t be any bears there anytime soon 👍— Frank Lapinet (@Flanklapenis) July 18, 2021
Yeah, the candles are pretty good but, really?— Mr Big Cheese (@MrBigCheese2020) July 18, 2021
What an unbearable situation…— Debbie (@DeboraE) July 19, 2021
One user asked, "Which scent were the candles? (Like, before the mace.)." Another noted, "Florida is an interesting place." One person commented, "Left over spray from January 6th insurrection, I guess." A person named the suspect "John “Wick”."
Which scent were the candles? (Like, before the mace.)— Anakela21 (@Anakela21) July 18, 2021
Florida is an interesting place— Ngozulu 📿 🇩🇴 (@ngozulumatondo) July 18, 2021
Left over spray from January 6th insurrection, I guess.— Jorge Orguel (@OrwellDream) July 18, 2021
John “Wick”.— Frank Figliuzzi (@FrankFigliuzzi1) July 18, 2021
Unlike pepper spray, bear mace is a much stronger irritant that can cause irritation to a person's eyes and respiratory system. It can also leave permanent damage in some cases, but thankfully that doesn't appear to have happened in Miami. If you find 'Florida man' stories intriguing, this is one for your file.