A Walmart west of Houston was evacuated late Sunday after two men sprayed a substance that made some people ill, deputies said.
It happened at the store near Highway 6 and Westpark Drive around 8:45 p.m., according to deputies with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
Dozens of employees and about 100 to 150 customers had to be evacuated. Some of them started to experience trouble breathing and suffered burning in their eyes and throat, deputies said.
There were reports of wheezing, sneezing and even vomiting. People said they smelled something “funny”, that they heard “somebody was mixing chemicals in there and throwing it in the air.” A hazardous materials team was called in. There, the reports fizzle out. The Sheriff’s office said the air quality tested fine.
I have looked at several sites for more info on this story. No place have I found what the sprayed substance was suspected to be. It could have been some canned gas, household cleaners, even hairspray or cologne. Anything really could have triggered it. It actually need not have been nefarious intent. It could have been someone just testing or goofing off in the store and observers mistook it for poisoning. It does not take toxic chemicals to make people believe they are becoming ill. The key to this story is that it was not reported that any toxic substances were found! Toxic gases just don’t disappear without a trace. They leave residue. Or the are captured within the area (Walmart is a pretty big store. It’s unclear if the problem area was small or widespread.) The police say “suspects” may be identifiable by security cameras.
So, many questions remain with this event. I strongly suspect it will turn out to be something less than “toxic”. Just ask anyone who is sensitive to strong scents – it makes them ill even if we think it smells good.