LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Las Vegas police have arrested a man accused of spraying bear deterrents in five different valley businesses to evacuate them before robbing them, police documents said.
Christian Phillips, 27, is accused of committing a series of “at least” five robberies nicknamed “Spray and Prey” in the Las Vegas valley between Aug. 28 and Sept. 30, according to an arrest report from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
On Aug. 28 at around 6:40 p.m., a man walked into a boba restaurant near Flamingo and Fort Apache roads, carrying a bag and wearing a mask. He asked the workers of the business for access to the bathroom, the report stated.
A short time later, both workers began to have trouble breathing from an “airborne irritant,” according to the report. The two exited the business in order to breathe, calling 911. Video of the restaurant showed the man putting on a gas mask and spraying the irritant.
Once he saw the workers leave, he went to the register and took it, leaving out of the back of the business, the report stated. He took an estimated $200 cash.
At around 3 a.m. on Aug. 29, a man entered a taco shop near Warm Springs Road and Durango Drive. Once inside, the man asked an employee for access to the bathroom and the employee gave him a key.
Moments later, employees could hear spraying coming from the restroom area and began to cough “uncontrollably,” the report stated. One of the employees called out to the man in the restroom but got no response. Both employees left “in order to get fresh air.”
While outside, the employees saw the man leave the bathroom, now wearing a gas mask and gloves, holding a “large aerosol canister,” according to the report. The man proceeded to destroy the cash register and grab around $350 in cash before leaving out the back.
On Sept. 28 at around 2 p.m., a man walked into a sandwich shop near Flamingo Road and El Capitan Way. Like in the other robberies, the man went to the counter and asked for the key to the restroom. A short time later, a customer told employees that a man was spraying something in the bathroom, the report stated.
When one of the employees confronted the man, he pointed the spray at the employee and continued to spray, forcing the entire store to evacuate, according to the report. From outside, the employees could see the man drop the spray, take the cash drawer, and leave out the backdoor.
When police arrived, they found a canister of Frontiersman Bear Deterrent. The man took an estimated $60, the report stated. The series of robberies was then nicknamed “Spray and Prey.”
At around 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 28, a man entered a coffee shop near West Charleston Boulevard and Pavillion Center Drive and asked for a key to the bathroom. An employee could hear an aerosol spray from inside the restroom.
The man exited the bathroom while still spraying the can, causing the business to evacuate for fresh air. The man then grabbed the cash register which contained around $500, the report said.
On Sept. 30 at around 1 a.m., a man walked into a restaurant near West Sahara Avenue and South Buffalo Drive and once again asked an employee for a key to the restaurant. A few minutes later, he exited wearing a gas mask and spraying aerosol pepper spray throughout the restaurant, according to the report.
The man took the cash drawer from the register, containing about $300. Police discovered that he discarded a bat during the robbery.
Police were able to locate a vehicle that matched one seen at one of the robberies. The vehicle pointed police in the direction of Phillips, who matched the description of the suspect from the robberies, the report stated.
On Oct. 1, police went to Phillips’ home where he was taken into custody. In a search of his home, police found clothing that matched surveillance video of the robberies, coupons for the coffee shop, a Frontiersman bear attack deterrent spray bottle, and a restroom key, the report stated.
Phillips faces 11 counts of robbery and five counts of burglary of a business. He is being held on a $75,000 bail. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Oct. 18.
If Phillips makes bail, he will be required to be on high level electronic monitoring, start out of trouble, and stay away from the businesses that were robbed.