NORTHRIDGE, Calif.–The woman accused of shooting pepper spray at other customers at a busy Walmart store in Porter Ranch, injuring 20, was described by police today as about 5 feet 3 inches tall, between the ages of 32-38, with black hair and brown eyes.
Police do not have a description of the vehicle the woman was driving, but they expressed confidence that the woman will be arrested.
Los Angeles Police Department Detective Gus Villanueva said detectives are actively working the case, but are not expected to receive surveillance video from Walmart until early next week because of “technical glitches.”
The video should be clear enough to help identify the suspect, Sgt. A.J. De Bellis of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Devonshire Station, said.
“Eventually this will catch up with her,” De Bellis said.
The woman “at the very least” will face “a minimum of one” battery charge for each injured person, De Bellis said.
This was “not a very bright thing (for her) to have done,” De Bellis said Greg Rossiter, Walmart’s director of corporate communications, called the incident an “unfortunate situation.”
“We’re glad everyone seems to be OK,” Rossiter said in a telephone interview from the company’s Bentonville, Ark. headquarters. “We’re cooperating with the investigation and working with law enforcement to provide any camera footage we have.”
There were no other incidents at Southern California Walmart stores that required police involvement, Rossiter told City News Service.
“It’s unfortunate that one person became a true Grinch and ruined a family experience by harming adults and children simply trying to shop for their loved ones,” said Councilman Mitchell Englander, who chairs the Public Safety Committee and whose district includes the Walmart.
“An unhappy customer” sprayed pepper spray at the Walmart store at 19821 Rinaldi St. around 10:10 p.m. Thanksgiving night, said LAPD Lt. Abel Parga, the Devonshire Station’s watch commander.
The woman “was waiting with other shoppers for some items wrapped in plastic to be released for sale at 10 p.m.,” LAPD Officer P. Rimkunas said.
“When the plastic was ripped off, she sprayed.”
There are broadcast reports the woman grabbed an Xbox video game system and purchased it as she left the scene.
Firefighters treated 20 patients for minor injuries, Shawn Lenske of the Los Angeles Fire Department said. All the patients were treated and released, Lenske said shortly before 1 a.m.
One section of the store was cleared while patients were treated and the pepper spray dissipated, Parga said. Meanwhile, the store remained open and those not affected by the pepper spray continued shopping.