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Mother, baby pepper-sprayed by stranger in Georgia Walmart, police say

Mother, baby pepper-sprayed by stranger in Georgia Walmart, police say

Mother, baby pepper-sprayed by stranger in Georgia Walmart, police say
Photo Credit: knivesdeal/Pixabay
Stock photo of peeper spray.

Mother, baby pepper-sprayed by stranger in Georgia Walmart, police say

Sheree Campbell of Folkston, Georgia, is behind bars, accused of attacking Briona Wimbush and her baby in a St. Marys, Georgia, Walmart on Tuesday. 

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According to the report, Campbell pepper-sprayed both Wimbush and her baby, and punched Wimbush in the face. 

"She was able to come up on this side, grab this side of my hair, still pepper spraying me, and hitting me, to where I had cuts on my eyes and my lip was busted," Wimbsuh said.

Wimbush felt she was being followed

The report says the violent encounter stemmed from an earlier incident in the store, in which Wimbush questioned Campbell's husband, Michael, about following her around inside the Walmart.

The report states Campbell denied following her. 

"So, I turn around and I tell him, ‘Why are you following me? Are you following me?'" Wimbush said. "And he says, ‘I'm not following you! You're delusional!’” 

Action News Jax reporter Ryan Nelson also spoke to a witness, Tammy Floyd, about Wimbush and Michael Campbell's encounter in the aisles. 

"I was looking down the aisles as I went, and he was very close to her," Floyd said. "So I thought they were there shopping together. She came down another aisle and there he was again … She stopped and turned around and asked, ‘Are you following me?' And he said, ‘No, I'm not, and why would I be?' And then he cussed her out, and then she said ‘Well, you need to stay away from me.'"

Wimbush talks to management

After the encounter in the aisle, Wimbush tells us she called her mother, who advised her to find security at the store. She tells us she spoke to an associate and two Walmart managers were paged. 
Wimbush says she gave a description of Campbell. 

"I'm just thinking, like, ‘Oh, she's going to go see what's going on,' or ask them to leave the store, and I guess that's not what happened," said Wimbush. "I just said thank you. They walked away, and I walked away, and finished my shopping."

The violent encounter

After Wimbush spoke to managers, the report states Mrs. Campbell was seen on video surveillance confronting Wimbush in the deli section, as Wimbush was holding her 16-month-old child, Dallas. 

"They continued to argue when Mrs. Campbell pulled out pepper spray from her purse and sprayed Mrs. Wimbush while she was holding Dallas," an incident report stated. "The spray hit Mrs. Wimbush in the face causing her to be blinded and also got on the face and eyes of Dallas. One of the bystanders then took Dallas from Mrs. Wimbush arms before Mrs. Campbell proceeded to pull Mrs. Wimbush's hair and try and hit her in the face which caused the scratch on her eye."

According to the report, Wimbush was then separated from Sheree Campbell, and the Campbell family left.

Wimbush told police she had never met Mrs. Campbell or her family before. Wimbush and her son were checked by EMS and she declined to go the hospital, the report states. 

Wimbush and family believe the violent incident could have been prevented had Walmart employees done more after she complained of being followed. 

"They walked away, and I walked away because I'm thinking they're going to go handle it," Wimbush said. 

Walmart responds

Nelson reached out to Walmart for a statement on the measures taken by staff after Wimbush's complaint. 

"We take these claims seriously and believe our associates acted appropriately. We will continue to assist law enforcement as they investigate," said Walmart spokesperson Payton McCormick. "We offered to leave an associate with our customer to make her feel more comfortable but she refused, and continued shopping."

How Campbell was identified

Police turned to the public to help identify Mr. and Mrs. Campbell and another woman seen in a surveillance image inside the Walmart. The people in the surveillance image were identified as Michael and Sheree Campbell. 

On Wednesday, police spoke to Michael Campbell.

"I asked Mr. Campbell what happened," a police officer stated. "To which he recounted the events that Mrs. Wimbush had stated previously except that he states that he and his wife felt threatened due to Mrs. Wimbush having a baggy sweatshirt, and they did not know if she was hiding a weapon in it. Mr. Campbell claims he was not following that other woman and that his family was sorry that this happened. I inquired as to why they left to which he stated they left to go pray since they felt terrible about the events. I asked if he would write out a voluntary statement to which he agreed."

The police report says that Mr. Campbell said his wife wanted to give a statement later. Later in the day, Mr. and Mrs. Campbell went to the police station.

"I went out to the lobby and had Mrs. Campbell recount the events that had happened after reading her Miranda Rights," an officer wrote in a report. "She then stated on body cam that she had pepper sprayed Mrs. Wimbush and her child. When asked if she knew that Mrs. Wimbush was holding her baby she stated that she did see that. Mrs. Campbell claimed she felt threatened which is why she did it. I asked why she continued to attack Mrs. Wimbush after she pepper sprayed her to which she replied the adrenaline had kicked in, and I just wanted to protect my family."

She was then arrested for battery and cruelty to children. At last word from police, she was awaiting a bond hearing.

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