Firefighters from the Nelson’s Fire Brigade’s hazardous materials response team collect the contaminated clothing from outside a Queen St store, during last week’s chemical scare in Richmond. Photo: Simon Bloomberg.

Police praise public after chemical attack

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It could be another week before police know the identity of the substance used in last week’s chemical attack on a Queen St store that closed down part of Richmond’s central business district for two hours.

A 45 year-old man was chased and apprehended by a group of Waimea College students after he was seen throwing an unknown liquid onto a rack of clothes outside boutique clothing store, Captivation, at about 3.30pm last Thursday.

The incident resulted in emergency services closing Queen St between Wensley Rd and Cambridge St and evacuating businesses as a hazardous material team from the Nelson Fire Brigade removed the contaminated clothing.

Nelson police spokesperson Barbara Dunn says the contaminated clothing has been sent to forensic scientists for testing but that it “could be at least a week before the results come back”.  The chemical dissolved some of the clothing on the rack and shop owner Lea Lock was taken to hospital as a precaution after suffering from a sore throat, but was later discharged.

“The man has been charged with criminal damage, which has a maximum sentence of seven years in prison so it is a serious charge,” Barbara says. “But the identity of the chemical will help guide any decisions that are made relating to this case.”

Nelson Bays police area commander, Inspector Steve Greally, praised the actions of Waimea College’s students who apprehended the man.