A 13-year-old boy has been charged after firing bear spray into the air at Winnipeg's Red River Exhibition on Sunday afternoon.
Winnipeg police say the incident happened just after 3 p.m. CT on Sunday and started when the teen, along with two friends, got into a fight with another group of boys.
The dispute led to the bear spray being discharged. Several bystanders were affected, including a five-month-old baby. No one suffered any serious injuries, police said.
Among those who were hit by the cloud of bear spray were Dennis Boulanger and his eight-year-old daughter, Kaitlin, who went to the Red River Ex as part of a Father's Day outing.
"I could see the yellow cloud of pepper spray and that's when it started burning about 10 seconds after," Boulanger told CBC News on Monday.
"It burned hard for about 20 minutes, half an hour."
Kaitlin Boulanger said she was able to get most of the burning spray out of her eyes quickly.
"My dad took me to this stand where they had water and I had to get, like, water in my eye," she said.
"A lady came and took me to the first aid [station] and they put water on my face."
Boy chased by off-duty officer
According to police, the 13-year-old who was charged was with two other boys, aged 12 and 13, at the time of the incident. All three were taken into custody but just the one was charged.
Police said the boys started fighting with another group of boys, which led to the bear spray being fired off.
An off-duty officer observed the incident and chased the boy. The officer was assisted by an on-site security member as the teen was taken into custody.
A search of the boy revealed that he also had a loaded pellet gun with him, according to police.
The teen has been charged with seven counts of assault, one count of possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, and two counts of failing to comply with previous court orders.
He has been detained at the Manitoba Youth Centre. He cannot be named under the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act because he is a minor.
Ex staff consider searching kids
Garth Rogerson, CEO of the Red River Exhibition Association, said they're doing all that they can with security at the gates, short of installing metal detectors.
Rogerson said staff never suspected younger kids would bring such items into the fair.
"All bags get searched and we have pat-downs. We don't tend to pat down young children, you know? It's very unfortunate that maybe we have to start looking at the younger kids too," he said.
Rogerson says given the number of people who go to the Ex, and with all the security and police, people should feel safe because there are few incidents overall.
The Ex set an attendance record in 2011, with 223,183 people visiting during the 10-day event.
Dennis Boulanger said he and his daughter suffered no long-term effects from the bear spray.
Despite what happened on Sunday, Kaitlin Boulanger said she will still go back to the Red River Ex.