Airborne substance sickens several at Naples mall, no cause found

Mall security officers removed two garbage cans, but nothing was found in them, fire Battalion Chief Mike Nichols said. Shoppers were kept from walking down a stretch of the mall between J.C. Penney and the food court while the situation was checked out, mall workers said.

— Six people were sickened Saturday afternoon by an unknown airborne substance that wafted through part of Coastland Center mall, Naples fire officials said.

City fire Battalion Chief Mike Nichols said the substance likely was mace, but no source was found. The substance quickly dissipated. Nobody witnessed anyone discharging a substance, and mall security cameras didn't pick up anything, Nichols said.

The first sign something was amiss came a little before 3:30 p.m., when shoppers and workers in part of the mall near the food court began feeling nose and throat irritation, workers at the mall's T-Mobile kiosk said.

"Next thing I know everybody's coughing," T-Mobile worker Justin Klein said. "It's crazy."

Mall security officers removed two garbage cans, but nothing was found in them, Nichols said. Shoppers were kept from walking down a stretch of the mall between J.C. Penney and the food court while the situation was checked out, mall workers said.

Given the symptoms and passing nature of the incident, Nichols said, a "minor amount" of the substance was discharged.

Two medic units and two fire trucks were dispatched to the mall, Nichols said. No one was hospitalized, but the six sickened people had their blood pressure and blood oxygen levels taken, Nichols said. He said air tests found no air quality problems.

Mall security officers wouldn't comment, referring questions to the mall management office, which was closed.

Nichols called it a "large leap" to suggest the incident was prompted by Friday's mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater, but that tragedy was on at least one mall worker's mind. The shooter began his rampage by setting off gas canisters.

"It gets everybody freaked out," Charley's Grills Subs worker Rick Shellhorn said.

© 2012 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 12

Bigkondorsback (Inactive) writes:

What security cameras ?

blefebvre writes:

It's the toxic food court gas. Eat here ~ get gas!

LoadStar (Inactive) writes:

Given the clientel, it was probably the odor of a__ and taco meat.

just_makin_it writes:

Ummm, someone sprayed someone with Mace. Argument?

angrytxpyr writes:

That one Fire Official would certainly know about hot air and bad smells!!! I've heard about some of his alleged comments regarding the Fire Department Director and just what many members think about the guy.

"passing nature" of the gas during a "large leap" from a shopper might have been the cause of the oder. Did that fire official really say that or did he just think that.

Sick writes:

How is this information anyway at all helpful to the public going forward?

It should have read "If you were wondering why fire and rescue were called to coastland center mall?.......

Talk about a town with nothing else to do.

OP writes:

The surprising thing about this article is that the writer did not find a way to suggest the fault for this matter lies with one of the following: A) global warming, B) BUSH!!!!, C) all Republicans.

But, there is time for all of that after corporate sends out its directives.

WadeGarrett (Inactive) writes:

in response to OP:

The surprising thing about this article is that the writer did not find a way to suggest the fault for this matter lies with one of the following: A) global warming, B) BUSH!!!!, C) all Republicans.

But, there is time for all of that after corporate sends out its directives.

D) Guns

greathornedlizard writes:

is Wackenhut still running security at the mall?
look no further..

Jarvis (Inactive) writes:

A big fatso farted in the food court after eating a big plate of beans?

The gas burned their throats and caused nausea. Surveillance video?

Any fatties in the area? Check for a burn pattern around the back of their shorts.

pittgirl writes:

in response to Jarvis:

A big fatso farted in the food court after eating a big plate of beans?

The gas burned their throats and caused nausea. Surveillance video?

Any fatties in the area? Check for a burn pattern around the back of their shorts.

Too Funny. Check out joeblow's shorts. I am sure it was him!!

angrytxpyr writes:

Maybe just maybe its the "fart in a rain barrel" that NPD seems to never be able to find.

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