Bear Spray-Wielding Robber Shot by Store Owner

GARDENDALE, AL – A dramatic scene unfolded in a local jewelry store in Gardendale, Alabama, when the store owner thwarted a woman’s robbery attempt. The suspect, identified as 32-year-old Heather Denise Wright, allegedly wished the store workers “Happy Holidays” before brandishing a can of bear spray and announcing her intent to rob the store. The store owner, Jeff Dennis, responded by shooting Wright in the shoulder, as reported by local law enforcement.

The incident occurred just before 5 p.m. on Wednesday at Jeff Dennis Jewelers. Surveillance footage from the store showed Wright, dressed in a dark hood, gloves, and a face mask, standing near the front door of the store with a can of bear spray in her hand. The sight of a masked individual holding a can of bear spray near the store’s entrance painted an ominous picture of the events that were about to unfold.

Wright allegedly told the employees that she didn’t want to harm anyone before releasing the bear spray. This statement, however, was quickly followed by her actions that told a different story. Dennis, who had drawn his gun when Wright wedged the store door open with a block, shot her in the shoulder in response to her actions. Wright dropped her bag, screamed, and fled the scene, leaving behind additional weapons in her purse. The sequence of events highlighted the quick thinking and response of the store owner in a high-stress situation.

Dennis, who declined to comment on the incident, shared his thoughts in an interview with “I did what I could to protect my store and employees. I had no idea what she was capable of,” Dennis said. His statement underscored the fear and uncertainty that small business owners can face when confronted with such a situation.

The suspect was apprehended by the police in Gardendale, a town about 10 miles north of Birmingham. Wright is currently being held without bail on charges of robbery and criminal use of defense spray. The swift action by the local law enforcement ensured that the suspect was taken into custody, preventing her from posing any further threat to the community.

Reflecting on the incident, Dennis expressed relief that Wright had survived the encounter. “Some poor choices by somebody made me do something I hoped I’d never have to do,” he said. “I’m glad she didn’t die. I hope she can turn her life around.” His remarks reveal a sense of compassion and humanity despite the terrifying encounter he had experienced.

Following the incident, the store was closed for a day and has since reopened for limited service, as per a post on Dennis’ Facebook page. The post-incident recovery and reopening of the store demonstrate resilience and determination to move forward in the face of adversity.