Calgary camera store clerks pepper-sprayed during robbery, police investigating

WATCH: Security footage shows a man trying to take a camera from The Camera Store in Calgary.

Calgary police say a suspect is on the loose after pepper spray was used during a robbery at The Camera Store on Thursday afternoon.

Officers were called to the store at about 5 p.m. for reports of a theft. Investigators say pepper spray was used.

Surveillance video sent to Global News appears to show a man in a dark coat and dark pants examining something as he stands in the middle of the store.

The man is seen walking across the floor before attacking a store clerk. Several other employees run after him and the group exits the frame.

Limited edition camera and other high-end gear stolen from The Camera Store in Calgary

According to sales manager Russ Scullen, the salesperson was dealing with the customer and told Scullen to “watch this guy” because he sensed something was off. The man actually left the store, then returned and started engaging the same salesperson again before making his move 10 to 15 minutes later, Scullen said.

“He was watching the door. He was nervous, he was jittery, he was moving very quickly at times,” Scullen told Global News on Friday.

“At one point in time when the doorway was empty from customers going in and out, he actually made a bolt for the door.”

WATCH: (Jan. 30, 2019) Thousands of dollars worth of merchandise stolen in smash and grab

Scullen said he tried to stop the man, but he quickly maneuvered around him, at which point he and another salesperson chased him out the door followed by three others. He said two of the employees were pepper-sprayed.

“One of the things is that went through my head is do we prevent him from going out of the store? How do we do that?” Scullen said.

He said typically he tells employees it’s not worth it to chase after a robber, but said the employees’ “pride in the store” means when situations like this happen, everyone jumps into action.

The employees are doing OK now, according to Scullen.

“When they came back in, of course, their eyes are hurting and things like that, but it didn’t really take them that long to calm down,” Scullen said.

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He said both the employees have asthma, so in addition to needing to collect themselves and wash their eyes, he was concerned for their breathing.

Footage of the series of events inside the store has been handed over to police, Scullen said, along with surveillance video that possibly shows the suspect’s vehicle and the parking lot at the time of the incident.

Scullen said at The Camera Store, the employees are always really aware of the customers and their behaviour, adding that there’s always a manager on the floor. He said other stores should have a plan for when this kind of thing happens, and not try to follow a thief when it’s not worth it.

Calgary police said one suspect was involved in the robbery, but no one had been apprehended as of Friday afternoon.

WATCH: (Jan. 24, 2019) Calgary police investigate Thursday morning ATM robbery attempt

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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