LONDON: A masked man is being hunted by police after he ran into restaurants and shops spraying a chemical which left 15 people unable to breathe.
Hazmat crews rushed to a Pizza Hut, Tesco and McDonald’s in Upper Gornal, West Mids, after the ‘unknown substance’ was deployed inside after 7pm last night.
One victim was so badly affected they had to be taken to hospital for treatment after the attack. The other 14 were looked at by experts at the scene.
Today West Midlands Police were combing through CCTV footage to try and find the identity of the person responsible.
Local Glen Simms wrote online: ‘Apparently acid attacks in Tesco, Pizza Hut and the betting shop in Upper Gornal.
‘Police, fire and ambulances there and some in hazmat suits. It looks like at least one person in the hospital.
‘It’s so frightening and pretty much on the doorstep too. You can’t take your safety walking around a supermarket for granted anymore.’
Police are currently exploring leads on who the attacker might be although they are unsure the motive for targeting the three venues.
A spokesman said: ‘We are investigating after an unknown substance was sprayed in three business premises in Upper Gornal just after 7pm last night.
‘Paramedics treated 14 people at the scene with breathing difficulties and one other was taken to hospital. Fortunately none have suffered any lasting effects.
‘We are fast-tracking CCTV enquiries and speaking to witnesses. Forensics experts have examined each premises to establish the nature of the substance.’
Forensic experts are understood to be analysing the substance today to try and find out what was in it.
A number of chemicals can create the problem of causing people to struggle to breathe.
West Midlands Ambulance Service were called to reports of an ‘unknown chemical substance’.
A spokesman said: ‘We were called to reports of an unknown chemical being sprayed at Pizza Hut in Upper Gornal at 7.23pm last night, one ambulance, two paramedic officers and our Hazardous Area Response Team attended the scene.
‘On arrival at the scene it became evident that the chemical had been also sprayed at two other locations, Tesco and McDonalds.
‘In total, 15 patients self-presented to our members of staff, 14 of whom were discharged at the scene.
‘One patient, a man, was treated for symptoms at the scene before being taken to Russell’s Hall Hospital for further assessment.’