SARASOTA -- Customers at Panera Bread, 5864 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota, began coughing and complaining of skin irritation at 6:04 p.m. Thursday.
The Sarasota County Fire Department and Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office deputies established a triage to treat affected customers and established a perimeter to prevent access to the area.
Deputies are interviewing a 16-year-old boy who admitted to spraying a “self-defense” chemical spray in the restaurant, according to a press release. The juvenile told deputies he did not know what it was or that it would spread throughout the restaurant.
The boy and his parents have cooperated with the investigation and it appears the juvenile had no intentions of harming any of the other customers, according to deputies.
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The injuries to the customers do not appear to be serious, according to the release, and the Fire Department is monitoring the situation.
No word on how many people were affected and how long the business will be closed.