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‘Innocent’ bar patrons pepper-sprayed

Pepper-spray set off inside a Maple Ridge pub sent patrons scrambling for cover early Saturday as they fled to escape the pungent, eye-stinging mist.

“People were running out of the exit and the back room, where they are not supposed to be because it engulfed the whole bar,” said Yvan Charette, general manager of the Haney Public House.

According to Ridge Meadows RCMP, a dispute between two groups of people around 2:15 a.m. sparked the incident.

Two men were detained by officers, said Cpl. Alanna Dunlop. They were questioned and released. One of the men involved is known to police and Charette said the gang task force was notified after the incident.

There were between 40 and 50 people inside the downtown pub when pepper spray was set off just after closing time.

“It really affected my business,” said Charette, adding two doormen and two waitresses got sprayed in the face.

RCMP have video surveillance from the hotel to help them with the investigation.

Although it may seem like an innocuous dispute ignited by a few too many drinks, Charette said police are taking the incident seriously and he expects charges.

“Because it affected so many people in the bar, it becomes a public safety issue,” he added.

The patrons involved will be banned from the Haney Public House as part of the Bar Watch program.

Launched in April, Ridge Meadows Bar Watch currently has eight members including The Billy Miner, By Bailey’s, Roosters Country Cabaret, Planet Ice, The Witch of Endor, Golden Ears Pub, Haney Public House and Caddy Shack.

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