Some people said it was over a woman. Some said it was over money. Whatever it was over, it burned.
Residents and foreign backpackers on Street 93 along Boeng Kak Lake found themselves crying and retching Monday after a man, reportedly a US citizen, attempted to settle a vendetta with a can of pepper spray.
Tun Sarin, 38, said she was standing outside her house around 8 pm when a man drove his 250 cc motorcycle down the street releasing a noxious spray behind him.
“I don’t know what kind of spray it was, but it made a lot of people vomit, cough and burn when it got on their skin.”
Heng Dara, an employee at the Red Corner bar, identified the man on the motorcycle as a one-legged veteran of the war in Vietnam. He said the man he thought was responsible occasionally came to his bar looking for another man with whom he had a disagreement.
Heng Dara said the intended victim slipped off Sunday night after realizing he was targeted. Then the attacker, who witnesses said was wearing protective gear, pulled a can of pepper spray from his backpack and drove down Street 93, poisoning the air.
“Everybody wanted to stop him, but they couldn’t go near him because they were afraid he’d poison them,” Tuch Navy, the commune chief, said. “I called the police, but they arrived after it was over.”
Chief of Foreign Police Pol Phithey said the spray’s effects are only temporary. The case is under investigation, he added.
A foreign resident on Street 93 dismissed the incident as melodrama. But he said he was worried that the incident could hurt businesses in the lakeside neighborhood, which draws droves of foreign backpackers seeking cheap lodging and a laid-back atmosphere.
“We don’t want [the attacker] around here,” he said. “It’s all pretty theatrical, really.”