'Everyone started running for the exit:' Clubber describes Pop Works pepper spray panic

A clubber caught up in a pepper spray attack at a Doncaster nightclub which put eight people in hospital has revealed how panicked revellers raced for exits, covering their mouths with clothes and being sick as the gas took hold.
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Police are still probing the attack at Pop Works in Silver Street in the early hours of Sunday morning – and are piecing together the events leading up to the attack which took place at around 5am.

One clubber, who has asked not to be named was caught up in the incident, which police have described as ‘terrifying.’

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He said: “I started to feel a tickle at the back of my throat, and then began coughing.

Clubbers were left choking after Pop Works in Silver Street was attacked with pepper spray.Clubbers were left choking after Pop Works in Silver Street was attacked with pepper spray.
Clubbers were left choking after Pop Works in Silver Street was attacked with pepper spray.

"I didn’t think much of it at first, until I realised everyone around me was also coughing.

"I looked further and everyone in the club was sort of looking at each other thinking ‘there’s something wrong here.’

"Then all of a sudden, everyone started rushing towards the exit covering their mouths and nose with their t shirts.

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"I couldn’t help but think everyone was just going to drop in a second.

"As I was walking down the stairs I started to throw up, and it was at this point the burning in the back of my throat started.

"When I got outside of the club on Silver Street, it was just surreal, everyone who had just been in the club was at the side of the road coughing and spewing.

He added: “I’m not sure how someone managed to sneak the gas into the club, as the bouncers at the front were thoroughly searching everyone. They searched through my socks, belt, and emptied all my pockets.”

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“I’d say there was at least 100 people in the club at the time. I didn’t personally see any spray or canisters and there was also no smell at all, which made the whole situation even more confusing at the time.”

Police have confirmed that “pepper spray or similar” was released in the crowd and have urged anyone with information about those responsible to come forward.

Superintendent Peter Thorp from Doncaster said: “While our enquiries into this incident remain ongoing, we want to reassure the wider public that this was thankfully a relatively minor release of something akin to a pepper spray, which didn’t cause any lasting injuries and the majority of people at the venue were unaffected.

“However, the fact remains that whoever chose to bring that substance to the venue clearly did so to cause alarm or injury, and we are working to identify those responsible.

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“I’d repeat the request for anyone with information or witnesses to come forward, so we can develop as comprehensive an understanding as we can of what happened.”

You can pass information to police via online live chat, the online portal or by calling 101. Please quote incident number 210 of 30 July 2023 when you get in touch. You can access the online portal here: www.southyorks.police.uk/contact-us/report-something/

Emergency services were called at around 5am after a number of people reported feeling unwell. Eight people were taken to hospital as a precautionary measure, but later discharged with no injuries.