NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — A 23-year-old Newport News 7-Eleven clerk was arrested Sunday for pepper spraying a homeless man in the face inside the store where she works on Washington Avenue.
"I’m like, 'Sir, if you do not leave I’m going to call the police or I’m going to mace you,'" said Jasmine Collier.
Collier said the man walked into the store around 7 p.m. and used food stamps to buy pizza, which he proceeded to eat in the store.
She said this homeless man followed her around the store, asking her personal questions, trying to get to know her better, while the whole time he was drinking wine out of a two-liter bottle.
"He kept asking me personal questions like, do I have a boyfriend, do I live with my boyfriend, what time do I get off,’" said Collier.
She said after about an hour things began to get uncomfortable.
"And he was being belligerent, taking things out of customers hands. He wasn't comprehending what I was saying,” said Collier. "At that point, I'm like 'It’s time for you to go.' He refused and was like, 'I'll go in a minute,' I’m like, 'No sir, it’s time for you to go right now.' He said, 'No, I will leave when I damn well please,' basically.”
Collier threatened to call the police but never made the actual report. She thought the man would leave on his own.
"There was a lot of screaming back and forth,” said Collier. “He just didn't care about me calling the police he said, 'Go ahead and call them.'”
Collier carries a taser and pepper spray at work for these exact scenarios.
"I did spray the mace in his area but not directly in his face,” said Collier.
When police did show up it was Collier, not the homeless man, who was arrested. She has been charged with malicious release of a dangerous gas causing injury.
It was not the result she was expecting.
"I was surprised because I thought I was defending myself. I was really trying to be fair with him,” said Collier.
Collier is out of jail and plans to return to work on Tuesday.
She said the next time something like this happens, she won’t hesitate to call the police and will no longer take matters into her own hands.