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Bear Spray Vs. Gun: Woman Arrested After Being Shot During Jewelry Store Robbery Attempt

GARDENDALE, ALABAMA — Heather Denise Wright, 32, has been charged with three counts of first-degree robbery and criminal use of defense spray following a botched robbery attempt at Jeff Dennis Jewelers in Gardendale. Wright, from Nauvoo, remains hospitalized with plans for her transfer to Jefferson County Jail upon release. Her bail is set at $90,000.

The incident occurred just before 5 p.m. on Wednesday, when Wright, masked and armed with bear spray, entered the store. Store owner Jeff Dennis, alerted by her suspicious behavior, drew his firearm as Wright began spraying the employees.

In self-defense, Dennis shot Wright, causing a significant shoulder injury. The assailant fled but was apprehended by authorities, including Gardendale police and several other law enforcement agencies, with support from air and ground units. The suspect was located in a Birmingham apartment complex within hours and received medical treatment for her injuries.

Dennis, deeply affected by the incident, expressed regret over the necessity of his actions but affirmed his readiness to protect his store and employees in the future. The store, which closed temporarily for cleanup, has now reopened. This incident marks the first actual robbery at Jeff Dennis Jewelers.

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