LocalSYR

Clay murder leaves women seeking tools for protection

Central New York stocks of pepper spray sell out, interest in self-defense courses spike, as neighbors react to the murder of Lori Bresnahan.

Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - In the days after Lori Bresnahan was attacked leaving Great Northern Mall in Clay, so many women asked trainer Pat McGreal for help, he decided to hold his next self-defense clinic two weeks early.

"There has been more of a public outcry for this type of service that we offer and I'm getting a lot more questions from a lot more females right now in terms of what they can do to defend themselves," McGreal explained.

"This event was so awful that there has to be some hope that we can take from it," McGreal explained. "This is something that we need to learn from in order to correct this type of problem and situation and hopefully gain strength from it."

Valerie Bodah has been taking self-defense classes for years, encouraged by her husband, to build her strength. The couple also enrolled their 16-year old daughter, hoping the training will kick-in if she ever needs to defend herself.

"I know women are fearful of walking from the grocery store at night, carrying their groceries out with their children and what-not. So, I know that fear is out there," Bodah said.

That fear led many people to the Ra-Lin Sporting Goods counter this week, looking for pepper spray.

"A lot of people from that area, the Clay and Cicero area, have been in over the past couple of days," Manager David Steinberg explained. "We got calls from quite a few other stores too that everybody was out of pepper spray. I didn't have an exact inventory, but we probably sold over a hundred units between Friday and Saturday last weekend."

Steinberg noticed the spike in interest the day after Bresnahan's death.  Dozens of boxes delivered to Ra-Lin Sporting Goods on Wednesday were gone in hours. Calls to Bass Pro Shop in Auburn, DeJulio's in Syracuse, and Gander Mountain in Cicero had the same results, with workers reporting they were sold out of pepper spray.

New York State allows some firearms retailers, pharmacies, and other specially licensed retailers to sell pepper spray. Steinberg says customers must show identification proving that they are 18 or older and sign a form swearing that they are not a convicted felon.

Steinberg believes the long wait for pistol permits in Onondaga County, since the new gun control measures were passed in New York State, has made pepper spray an attractive alternative for those who want immediate protection.

McGreal hopes women will also learn how to use their own strength. One of his younger clients, Allison Paul, is preparing for college later this year.

"It is definitely something that I've never experienced before. So, just having this extra step with me makes me feel a little bit more prepared than I was."

The next free women's self-defense class is scheduled for Saturday, April 6, at 10:00 a.m. at Ultimate Athletics in Clay.  McGreal is hoping his efforts with help another woman avoid Bresnahan's fate.

"This event was so awful that there has to be some hope that we can take from it," McGreal explained. "This is something that we need to learn from in order to correct this type of problem and situation and hopefully gain strength from it."

Stores expect to have new shipments of pepper spray in a few days. Customers are encouraged to call ahead.

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