‘Happy holidays. I don’t want to hurt y’all’: Woman uses bear spray in attempted robbery


GARDENDALE, Ala. — An Alabama woman who used bear spray on employees during an attempted robbery at a jewelry store on Wednesday was shot by the owner of the business.

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According to a news release, the Gardendale Police Department said that Heather Wright, 32, of Nauvoo, is facing three counts of robbery in the first degree and three counts of criminal use of defense spray.

Jeff Dennis, the owner of Jeff Dennis Jewelers in Gardendale, told AL.com that a woman walked into the store at about 5 p.m. CST and was wearing a mask and coat.

“I’m always a little bit alert,’’ Dennis told the news outlet. “Even though we’re past COVID, there’s still a lot of people wearing masks.”

Wright allegedly bent down and put a block in the front door so it would stay open, according to AL.com.

The first thing she did was bend down and put a block in the door so it would stay open.

“I knew then what was happening,’’ Dennis told the news outlet. “So I drew my weapon.”

The store owner said that Wright allegedly said, “Happy holidays. I don’t want to hurt y’all, but I am,” before using the bear spray, AL.com reported.

The robbery attempt lasted just 40 seconds, WTVM reported. Dennis told the television it was a scary moment.

“One individual made a very stupid decision that put me in a position to defend my store,” Dennis said.

Dennis told AL.com he fired a shot and hit Wright “pretty good” in the shoulder, calling it a significant injury.

“I didn’t have any choice once she started spraying the bear spray because I didn’t know what was going to come next,’’ Dennis said.

Wright fled the scene but was later apprehended at a residence in nearby Birmingham, police said in the news release.

She was then taken to UAB Hospital where she is undergoing treatment for her injuries, AL.com reported. Wright will be transferred to the Jefferson County Jail in Birmingham at a later date, police said.

“It’s been an emotional thing,’’ Dennis told the news outlet. “I’m glad she didn’t die. I hope she can turn her life around.”

“I hope I’m never faced with that again,’’ he said. “But I have no doubt I would do the same thing again if I was faced with it a hundred times.”

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