All Sections

Home | Public Safety

Patient who sprayed staffer with bear repellent at Lancaster assisted-living facility may face criminal charges

Union Leader Correspondent

May 22. 2018 9:24PM
A sign outside the Country Village Center, shown here on Tuesday afternoon, says guns are prohibited in the care facility, but nothing about hot-pepper spray, which Lancaster Police said a patient discharged at a staff member earlier in the day. (JOHN KOZIOL/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

LANCASTER — A patient at the Country Village Center may face criminal charges after police said he deliberately sprayed an employee Tuesday morning with bear repellent.

Police Chief Tim Charbonneau said police were called at 7:50 a.m. to the Country Village Center, which provides skilled nursing and long-term care as well as rehabilitation services.

The employee and several other staffers had to be taken to a local emergency room, where they were treated and released.

Country Village Center spokesman Lori Mayer said the strong smell of the Frontiersman brand repellent resulted in residents being moved for several hours to an adjacent assisted living facility.

“For the safety of our residents and employees, the police have removed the residents from the building,” she wrote, adding that as of Tuesday afternoon, all residents “have returned to the building and everyone is safe.”

Frontiersman shares a common ingredient with pepper spray — capsaicin. The company website touts its “industry-topping range” of 35 feet; dual-propellant delivery system; and 9.2-ounce capacity, which can discharge 1.84 ounces of spray per second.

Hot-pepper spray “takes the fight away from you,” Charbonneau said, causing painful, burning eyes, coughing and difficulty in breathing. Oil-based, the spray is messy to clean up, and spreads readily.

Ted Joubert, Lancaster’s assistant fire chief, said firefighters had to wear scuba gear to enter Country Village Center, and then used fans to ventilate the building.

“You could feel there was something in the air,” said Charbonneau, who in his 13 years with police, said he has “never covered a call like this.”

Charbonneau said the incident remains under investigation. Asked whether the patient had Alzheimer’s disease or another condition that may have impaired his judgment, Charbonneau said he didn’t know.

Country Village Center, which is owned by Genesis HealthCare of Kennett Square, Pa., offers dementia care, according to its website.

Charbonneau said the patient could be prosecuted on a charge ranging from disorderly conduct to felony assault.

Public Safety Health Lancaster

More Headlines