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No felony charges for LA Walmart pepper-sprayer

December 8, 2011
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LOS ANGELES—A Los Angeles woman accused of attacking at least 20 Black Friday shoppers at a Walmart store with pepper spray won't face felony charges, prosecutors said Thursday.

The case of Elizabeth Macias, 32, was referred to city attorneys after county prosecutors didn't find evidence of a felony, said Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

Macias could still face misdemeanor prosecution, Gibbons said.

Gibbons declined further comment on the case, saying it's no longer the county's to handle. Phone messages left Thursday night at numbers listed for Macias were not immediately returned.

Los Angeles police Detective Mike Fesperman told the Los Angeles Times that it's possible Macias used the pepper spray in self-defense. She was among a scrum of shoppers vying for Xbox video game players at the Walmart in Porter Ranch.

"I'm not saying it was right. It could have been a situation that she was in fear for her safety, that she would be crushed," Fesperman said. "It comes down to whether it was a matter of self-preservation or she was trying to gain access to the games."

Police had said they interviewed more than a dozen witnesses and examined store security videos and YouTube videos in which people can be heard saying, "I'm being trampled."

The shower of pepper spray created even more chaos. At least 20 people, including children, experienced nose and throat irritation or suffered cuts and bruises.

The pepper sprayer got away in the confusion, and it was not known if she bought one of the Xboxes. Macias turned herself into police the next day, but she declined to answer investigators' questions and was released.

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