Smell of pepper spray or mace leads to evacuation |

Smell of pepper spray or mace leads to evacuation

Veronica Whitney
NWS Chem Gas Thrifty BH 8-3

About two dozen people had to evacuate an Edwards thrift shop when a suspicious odor filled the store Tuesday.

“We were looking at some stuff at the store when we started coughing,” said Cesar Alcala, who was shopping with his family at The Thrifty Shoppe , which is across U.S. Highway 6 from Riverwalk. “The smell was so strong that everybody left the shop.”

Elizabeth Myers, general manager of the store, said she suddenly felt a burn on her throat and started coughing.

“It wasn’t a gas smell,” said Myers, who called police immediately.

Paramedics responded to the call for help, but nobody had to be treated, said Eagle County Sheriff’s Deputy Alex Iacovetto, who investigated the case.

“The smell was consistent with a mace or pepper spray, but I couldn’t find anything at the store,” Iacovetto said. “The Eagle River Fire Department checked the shop also and didn’t find anything out of the ordinary.”

Firefighters used fans to clear the shop of the smell.

Jeff Boock, an fire department engineer, said the smell wasn’t caused by gas but by some kind of respiratory-tract irritant. He also said the odor could have come from pepper spray or mace.

“It’s possible somebody did it on purpose or something was in a bag and leaked,” Boock said.

Iacovetto said the investigation is closed. The shop will be open today.

Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454 or at

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