A man who fired pepper spray inside a Winnipeg shopping mall on Monday sprayed the substance in the air during an argument with a man who was armed with a knife, according to a witness.
Hundreds of Boxing Day shoppers at Polo Park, the city's largest mall, were affected by the pepper spray when it was discharged around 2:30 p.m. CT on Monday.
Richelle Jeffs, who was at the mall with her sisters, told CBC News she saw two men arguing as they left a store on the main floor.
"They came from the Apple Store, and the guy in the green was just yelling at the guy in the red, and he was, like, calling him names…. They looked like they were just very angry at each other," Jeffs recalled.
"One pulled out pepper spray, and one had a knife in his pocket," she added. "He just sprayed it in the air, hoping to get him."
The two men ran out of the mall after the incident.
Many bystanders were coughing and their eyes were irritated from the pepper spray, which generally contains a natural oil found in hot peppers.
Jeffs said she breathed in some of the pepper spray, while her sister got some in her eyes.
Fire crews ventilated the section of the mall where the pepper spray was discharged, and paramedics treated shoppers.
Three people were taken to hospital in stable condition, according to Winnipeg police.
Investigators are now working with Polo Park officials to review surveillance tape of the incident.
No arrests have been made, a police spokesman told CBC News on Tuesday.