Police were reviewing video camera footage to find out who discharged pepper spray inside an elevator at Toys R Us’ crowded flagship store, sending at least three people to the hospital, authorities said.
Saturday afternoon’s incident also left others with irritated eyes at the toy chain’s Times Square store during the busy shopping weekend.
“I immediately could not breathe,” Teresa Cassello told NBC's New York affiliate WNBC. “I said ‘I have to get out of here ’cause I’m choking,’ but there were so many people behind me that I couldn’t get out.”
It was unclear how many shoppers were affected. Firefighter Kevin Nolan said five people were taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital and 17 others were treated at the scene or refused medical attention. Police said three people were taken to St. Vincent’s and nine refused medical attention.
Two people were released from the hospital within hours while one remained for further treatment, hospital officials said.
Susan McLaughlin, a spokeswoman for Toys R Us, said the incident was under investigation but declined to elaborate. “We are cooperating fully with the police,” she said.
The 110,000-square-foot store, which opened in 2001, features an 60-foot indoor Ferris wheel.