BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. (WJZ)– It was a chaotic scene at a Baltimore County Wal-Mart Saturday as the store was evacuated after a brawl inside.
Weijia Jiang reports on how it all unfolded.
Police say what started as a fight between two women ended as a crime scene and a hazmat scare.
It all happened at a Wal-Mart on Washington Boulevard, where shoppers and employees became victims.
“We were starting to get a lot of calls from throughout the store for a lot of patients suffering,” said Glenn Blackwell of the Baltimore County Fire Department. “Irritants to the eyes, respiratory passages.”
Police say Saturday just before 11 a.m., Theresa Jefferson, 33, followed a woman into the store, then approached her in the household cleaning aisle.
They say Jefferson started punching and dousing the victim with bleach and Pine-Sol, which contains ammonia. Mixed with chlorine, it makes a dangerous gas that can burn the eyes and respiratory tract.
The victim and 18 others were rushed to nearby hospitals.
“It’s a little crazy. It’s scary to walk into somewhere families take their kids,” customer Tatiana Gurnsey said.
“It’s a little pathetic, you let something get that violent that you send 18 innocent people to the hospital,” another customer Brad Simmons said.
But the fight didn’t end there. Investigators say after the bleach battle, the suspect came to the nearby Wilkens Police Station to file a protective order against the victim. That’s when officers recognized who she was.
“That officer placed the suspect under arrest at the time when she determined she was a suspect in an assault and not an actual victim,” Officer Shawn Vinson of the Baltimore County Police said.
Police say the victim’s current boyfriend is the father of Jefferson’s child, and the two have fought in the past.
For Wal-Mart’s part, a spokesperson says, “This is not the type of behavior we would expect in one of our stores. We apologize for any inconvenience it may have caused our customers.”
Jefferson is being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center on $350,000 bond, and faces many charges, including assault.
One victim was taken to the eye center at Johns Hopkins. Police do not know the extent of all the injuries but say none of them is life threatening.