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Sunday, December 15, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Spokane police officers sprayed with bear mace while pursuing robbery suspect in East Central neighborhood

UPDATED: Mon., July 24, 2017

A man sprayed himself and three police officers with bear spray during a chase in Spokane’s East Central neighborhood.

Robert Wigginton, 37, is accused of stealing several bottles of liquor from the Fred Meyer store on South Thor Street, according to records. Outside the store he got into a scuffle with store security.

After he escaped, a woman found Wigginton lurking near her detached garage in the 3600 block of East Fifth Avenue holding what looked to be a type of pepper spray.

She summoned police, according to Officer Neil Higgins.

In the garage, Higgins and other police officers found and inhaled “copious amounts of what appeared to be a capsaicin-based irritant” sprayed on the garage door wall and on a gray T-shirt that Wigginton had left behind, Higgins wrote. The woman told police that Wigginton was hiding in her backyard shed.

As officers approached the shed, Wigginton walked out with his hands up and then began spraying himself with a can of bear spray. He then jumped over the back fence and began running through an alley behind the house, spraying the mace behind him as he ran.

The officers chased and eventually detained him. They reported their eyes and lungs burning as a result of the spray. One officer had swelling and redness on his face.

“The officers were okay and checked back into service after booking the defendant and cleaning themselves up,” Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl wrote in an email.

Wigginton has a brief criminal history in Spokane County.

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