Orange County News

Laguna Beach couple suffers bizarre chemical attack

Friday, June 03, 2011

A mysterious chemical attack forced evacuations at an apartment complex Friday. Police are searching for a masked man who lobbed a rock and chemicals through a window.

The bizarre attack has forced at least five families from their apartments Friday as crews deal with the chemical contamination. The attack happened on Cypress Drive near Jasmine Street in Laguna Beach.

Laguna Beach Police say the chemical was identified as butyric acid, which can irritate the eyes, nose, throat and skin. The chemical was very concentrated in Friday morning's attack, enough to cause five apartments to be red-tagged, unsafe to enter until the entire building has been decontaminated.

Police say a masked man threw a rock through a window of a couple's apartment in Laguna Beach along with an unknown device and a bottle containing what has been identified as concentrated butyric acid.

"It's making everyone who gets into contact with it nauseous and their throats get sore immediately, their eyes start draining and their nose starts also draining, something like pepper-spray," said Laguna Beach Police Lt. Jason Kravetz.

Police evacuated the building and cordoned off nearby streets. No one was hospitalized from the incident.

"It smelled bad. It smelled like formaldehyde kind of," said Gavin Bagley, who was working nearby.

It happened around 3 a.m. Police say the husband ran after the masked man, but the suspect got away. As his wife called 911, she started feeling sick.

Soon after, the message "Stalk someone else" was found spray-painted on the couple's garage door. Investigators found spray-paint cans nearby.

"I don't know if they were specifically targeted or if it was a target that was misdirected, they picked the wrong house," said Kravetz.

As crews dressed in protective gear enter the apartment, to further investigate, the bomb squad removes the unidentified device. It did not appear to be dangerous.

Police were trying to identify the suspect. The suspect is described as a man wearing dark clothes and a ski mask.

The apartment building has been red-tagged until further notice.

Anyone with information related to the incident should contact Laguna Beach Police at (949) 497-0389.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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suspicious object, orange county news, eileen frere
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