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Niece says aunt assaulted in attempted Yellowknife robbery

A woman in Yellowknife said her aunt was sprayed twice with what appeared to be bear spray during an attempted robbery at her family’s store downtown Friday night. 

RCMP confirm woman assaulted with what appears to have been bear spray Friday night

The woman's niece said her aunt was sprayed twice with what appeared to be bear spray during an attempted robbery on Friday. (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC)

A woman in Yellowknife said her aunt was sprayed twice with what appeared to be bear spray during an attempted robbery at her family's store downtown. 

Debbie Dang told CBC her aunt was working alone at the Saigon Smoke Shop on 50th Street Friday night when a man dressed in black entered the store around 8:45 p.m.

Dang said she did not witness the alleged events, but her aunt told her what happened. Dang said she helped her aunt, whose first language is not English, to make a police statement. 

"He said 'Give me your money' and at the same time he said that, he sprayed her with pepper spray or bear spray," Dang said.

The spray left a stain on a curtain just behind the store's cash register. 

A curtain behind the cash register is still stained, after the woman was assaulted Friday. (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC)

Dang said the man then tried to steal the store's cash register. During a struggle, she said he sprayed her aunt, who is in her mid-forties, a second time.

"She pulled the cash register toward her so it would fall down to the ground," Dang said, describing her aunts efforts to prevent the robbery. 

Dang said it wasn't until her aunt grabbed a knife behind the counter that the alleged thief ran. 

"She was pretty traumatized," said Dang, adding her aunt went to the hospital following the assault as a precaution. "It's very upsetting."

In a press release Monday, Yellowknife RCMP said nothing was stolen from the business, but Dang said the man took her aunt's cell phone off the counter before he ran. 

RCMP say they are investigating "an assault with what appears to be bear spray." The city's fire department helped decontaminate the store after the "noxious substance" was sprayed.

Dang, and RCMP, are calling for anyone who may have seen something to come forward. 

Anyone with information can contact Yellowknife RCMP at 669-1111, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 nwtnutips.com, (click on "submit a web tip") or text: "nwtnutips" plus your message to 274637.

Yellowknife RCMP said it is investigating the assault. (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC)

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