Twenty customers and employees were forced out of the Hair Cuttery at Cranberry Mall after a small amount of pepper gas was released accidentally in the store Friday afternoon.
City police said an employee knocked a ring of keys, which also contained a canister of the gas, off a counter. When the employee bent to pick up the keys, she apparently touched the button and released the gas.
Within seconds, people in the shop began to feel short of breath and a tightness of the throat and went outside the mall for air. Engines from Westminster and Reese and a medic unit were sent to the shop, but no one required medical treatment.
None of the other businesses or mall customers was affected by the incident. Employees and customers returned to the store after the area was cleaned by an employee, police said.
Taxi company acknowledges operating without license
A taxi company still is picking up fares in Westminster after police revoked its license because it refuses to serve areas it considers dangerous, officials said.
Carroll County Cab Co. of Winfield turned in its license to operate in Westminster weeks ago rather than comply with a city order to pick up residents in all parts of the city, saying some areas were too crime-ridden and ill-policed.
Taxi company spokesman Bob Bell said it is the city ordinance requiring him to serve dangerous areas that is wrong.
"We're still picking up fares in Westminster because I've got a constitutional right to," Mr. Bell said last week. "The only people who are losing in this are the citizens of Westminster because the political machine is denying their constitutional right to public transportation."
OC City Police Chief Sam Leppo sent the company a letter saying it
is flouting the law and he plans to enforce it.
Driving a cab without a city license is a misdemeanor punishable by a $250 fine. Impounded cab owners face a $50 fine and a $5-per-day storage charge.
"It's the job of Westminster's mayor and council to draw up city ordinances and it's my job to enforce them," Chief Leppo said.
Sandymount: Engines from Reese responded to investigate the report of a fire alarm sounding in the 2100 block of Misty Meadow Road at 6:35 p.m. Thursday.
Westminster: Westminster and New Windsor engines investigated a possible propane tank explosion in the 500 block of Morelock Schoolhouse Road at 9:45 a.m. Friday. The first firefighters at the scene discovered that a hose leading to a swimming pool heating element had blown off a tank and released some propane. There was no fire or explosion.
Westminster: Westminster units responded for electrical wires down on Pleasant Valley Road near Route 97 at 10:12 p.m. Thursday.