Teenage prank led to Dairy Queen closure: owner

CORNWALL, Ontario – It appears as though a teenage prank led to the closure of Cornwall’s Dairy Queen Saturday night, with customers complaining of fits of coughing, choking and nausea.

Emergency officials had to close the restaurant Saturday night around 9 p.m., after what many thought to be ammonia or some other chemical had spilled at the popular ice cream shop.

Instead, owner Nolan Quinn tells Seaway News it appears as though a pair of teenage boys may have approached the Dairy Queen and fired something into the store, and then ran away.

Quinn said security camera footage shows a pair of boys, one on a skateboard and another on a bicycle, approach the doors “and do something.”

Quinn said the boys then “high tail” it off the Dairy Queen property and into the nearby Home Hardware.

Cornwall Community Police Service Sgt. Marc Fortin said that he’s unaware of any of those details and that the case is closed.

“There was nothing suspicious or unusual and nothing came out of it.” said Fortin.

In the aftermath customers were left choking and coughing, with some feeling even worse.

“My daughter and I were there this evening and everyone in the store started coughing like we all inhaled something,” Suzanne Sauve posted on the Seaway News Facebook page. “Employees as well. They had to open the doors, some people had to go outside, they were coughing so bad. My daughter coughed so bad, she went outside and vomited. Our whole drive home, we coughed.”

Quinn put to rest suggestions that ammonia had spilled – his ice cream machines run on Freon. He added all the machines are in top working order and are inspected regularly.

He also ruled out natural gas.

“We were pretty confident initially that it wasn’t gas as the occurance of coughing was not behind the grill area or the back of the store and it had no natural gas smell,” Quinn wrote on Facebook, in a message to DQ customers.

A total of six firefighters and two fire trucks were at the scene.

“From the original report there was a smell, but when the fire department went through the building and monitored the air, nothing was detected,” said Platoon Chief Luc Richer. “It was then turned over to police for an investigation.”

Quinn said the item that was potentially thrown into the store was kept to the front area where customers were standing, adding his cooks in the back were unaware of anything that happened.

“We called police, fire and EMS because they are the experts,” said Quinn.

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