NEWS

Bear spray too common in St. John's bar district: bouncer

08/21/2012 07:10 EDT | Updated 10/21/2012 05:12 EDT
A weekend melee that saw dozens of people hit by a blast of bear spray on a well-known bar strip in St. John's shows how risky nightclubs have become, one bouncer says.

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary is investigating the use of the bear repellent around 1 a.m. Sunday on George Street, the latest incident involving the spray on the strip.

"Everybody likes to bring in bear mace these days. I don't understand it," said Matthew Gushue, a bouncer at Trapper John's, a fixture on George Street.

Gushue was off-duty when a fight broke out outside the club. He came to the aid of co-workers, with no less than seven bouncers needed to bring the fight under control. But just as order was being restored, someone unleashed the can of bear spray.

Gushue, who recalled a similar incident recently inside the bar, said most people do not know how dangerous it can be.

"It's 10 times worse than pepper spray," he said. "It's like your skin is melting. You're trying to get it off but you can't. It's just everywhere around."

Bear spray is legal to buy, with hardware stores keeping it in stock for hunters and campers. However, it is against the law to use it against a person.

Gushue noted the incident played out near the RNC's closed-circuit cameras on George Street.

Police have been looking for more information that could lead to an arrest.

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