Suspect in Las Vegas Wore Hazmat Suit, Sprayed Carts and Customers in Coronavirus Scare

A man dressed in a hazmat suit went into a Walmart store and sprayed 13 people with an unknown liquid, police said. The incident comes at a time when many Americans are rushing to buy supplies amid rising fears due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The incident occurred at the Walmart store at 7200 Arroyo Crossings at around 8:20 p.m. on Saturday evening local time, KLAS reported.

Officer Aden OcampoGomez, a spokesman for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, said the suspect walked into the store wearing a hazmat suit. He said 13 people in the store came into contact with the "clear liquid" the suspect was spraying — but none of them were injured or showed any symptoms, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

"There was an individual that came into the store. He dressed in hazmat suit and started spraying certain items within the store," OcampoGomez told reporters outside the store.

Stock photo. A suspect is in custody after police said he walked into a Walmart store in Las Vegas and sprayed food and people with a "clear liquid." Getty

"At this point, we know that approximately 13 people came in contact with this substance that was being sprayed. None of these individuals have shown any signs or symptoms and nobody has been transported [to hospital] at this time."

A witness in the store told KLAS that she called 911 after the man started spraying people and items including fresh food.

"He had some clear liquid in it with the painter's tape, something written on it," Zandra Calma said. "He was just spraying unnecessary things and peoples' personal spaces, on conveyor belts, and worst of all, by the fresh foods."

OcampoGomez added that the suspect left the store before authorities arrived — but someone in the store had followed him to his vehicle and got his license plate. As a result, officers were able to track down the suspect, who has not been identified, and take him into custody.

The spokesman said that it was not clear what the substance was, but that the matter is under investigation. "We take these threats very seriously," he said.

He also said there was no danger to the community and also urged people to not panic buy items due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"One of the things we want to urge the public is that we know there's a difficult time going on with the world right now, but there is no reason for you guys to be going into the stores late at night and hoarding some of the supplies, due to the fact that there are plenty of supplies left in the stores at this point," he said.

It was not immediately clear what charges the suspect would be facing. The police department has been contacted for additional comment.

Walmart employees voluntarily evacuated the store due to the suspect's actions, KSNV reported. Newsweek has contacted Walmart and the Las Vegas Fire Department for comment.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of COVID-19

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing;
  • When caring for the sick; before; during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • If you feel unwell seek medical care early and call local health authorities in advance.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities, follow guidance.

Mask usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks.
  • Clean hands after disposing of mask, do not reuse single-use masks.