State College

Pepper spraying empties Waffle Shop

The Waffle Shop on West College Avenue was closed for a few hours Thursday after a customer “sprayed an aerosol in the restaurant.”

A male customer and his female companion were sitting in a booth at about 11:15 a.m. when customers said they saw a “poof go up” from a bag the man was rummaging through, according to Ferguson Township police.

Everyone immediately around the couple began coughing, shop owner Lisa Dimakopoulos said. The restaurant was immediately evacuated and 911 was called.

Police and fire departments responded to the call, she said, using fans to air out the interior. After receiving an all-clear from the code office, the restaurant reopened after about two hours.

An investigation revealed the substance was pepper spray, police said. No injuries were reported.

The man was described as white, about 5 feet, 8 inches tall and unshaven with long black, curly hair pulled up into a knot-like ponytail. He was wearing a plaid shirt and long pants, police said. The woman was white, about 5 feet 9 inches tall with midlength brown hair wearing a green top and khaki shorts. Both looked to be in their mid-20s.

The couple left in a dark-colored, midsized SUV, police said. The first three digits of the Pennsylvania license plate are ENN.

“We’ve been in business for a long time,” Dimakopoulos said, “and we’ve never had anything like this happen before.”