Provo Rec Center evacuated after man used bear spray on swimmer, police say

A man was arrested Wednesday after police say he used bear spray on a swimmer at the Provo Recreation Center.

A man was arrested Wednesday after police say he used bear spray on a swimmer at the Provo Recreation Center. (Spaxiax, Shutterstock)

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PROVO — A man was arrested Wednesday after police say he contaminated the indoor swimming pool area of the Provo Recreation Center with bear spray.

The 46-year-old man, who police say is a transient with a history of mental health problems, was booked into the Utah County Jail for investigation of aggravated assault, disorderly conduct and causing more than $5,000 in property damage.

Provo police were called to the Provo Recreation Center, at 320 W. 500 North, on a report of a man "spraying a substance into the indoor competition pool, located on the southwest corner of the building. Officers arrived on scene and learned that the suspect had used a chemical spray on another male," according to a police booking affidavit.

Officers talked to the man who had been sprayed. He said he was swimming laps in the pools when the man began throwing dollar bills at him.

"Surprised, the victim moved the money to the side and continue swimming. The suspect returned to the swim lane a short time later and sprayed a stream of mace at the victim who was still in the pool," according to the affidavit.

While police talked to the man, officers noted that he was "showing obvious pain and discomfort as he wiped himself with a towel. I observed the victim's face, neck and shoulders to be bright red. His eyes were red with irritation and swelling. The victim advised that he did not know who the suspect was nor did he know why he was attacked," the arrest report states.

When the man was taken into custody, officers found "a can of bear mace in his possession," the affidavit says.

The rec center was evacuated and both indoor pools were temporarily closed.

"The substance appeared to have spread to the pools and locker rooms due to the humidity and foot traffic of citizens. Upon clarification with the management I was informed that closing of the pools and the maintenance that will have to be done to decontaminate the pool systems and facilities will result in a pecuniary loss greater than $5,000," according to the affidavit.

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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the team in 2021, after many years of reporting at the Deseret News and KSL NewsRadio before that.


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