Restaurant Patrons Sprayed With Fire Extinguisher

Deputies searched Tuesday for two men who sprayed an irritating white substance toward a group of people standing in front of the Bombay Garden restaurant in Artesia, authorities said.

Investigators said Tuesday that the white substance was spray from a fire extinguisher.

Pat Patnaik, a member of the City of Cerritos' Economic Development Commission, told City News Service that he and some 10 other people had just finished dining at the Indian restaurant at 17221 Pioneer Blvd. around 9:50 p.m. Monday when the attack occurred.

While the group was standing outside the eatery and saying their goodbyes, two men in a white van rolled up, exited their vehicle and sprayed some type of white substance into the air in front of them, then sped off, Patnaik said.

"We were engulfed in a plume of white smoke," he told City News Service. "Some people's eyes were completely enflamed and turned red. It was a very pungent smell when you inhaled it. It went into our eyes and nose. Luckily one of the guys noted the license plate (of the attackers) and called 911."

Arriving Los Angeles County fire paramedics treated three people at the scene with eye wash, an On Scene Video camera crew reported. No one required hospital treatment.

The assailants were last seen traveling southbound on Pioneer Boulevard, Deputy Caesar Landeros of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department's Lakewood Station told On Scene.

The suspect vehicle was described as a white van with the partial license plate beginning with "EPM5".

Landeros said detectives would be looking at several possible motives for the attack -- which ultimately could be designated a hate crime -- and planned to obtain any available surveillance camera footage from nearby businesses.

Anyone with information on the assailants was urged to call the sheriff's Lakewood Station at (562) 623-3500.


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