No charges will be laid against a man who had been accused of depositing a mysterious "sticky white substance" on a 14-year-old girl's back at St. Vital Shopping Centre after that substance was determined not to be a bodily fluid.
Winnipeg police say forensic test results on the substance, which was seized shortly after the Feb. 19 incident, concluded it was "non-biological in nature."
The man, who had been identified as a person of interest, will not be charged as a result, police spokesman Const. Jay Murray told CBC News.
"This individual came forward and we interviewed them and kind of got their side of the story. This substance was sent for testing and when it came back being non-biological in nature, we decided that no charges are going to be pursued in this matter," Murray said Thursday.
Murray would not specify what the substance turned out to be. He also would not say what explanation the man provided to police, citing privacy concerns, since no charges are being laid in the case.
Around 1:50 p.m. on Feb. 19, a group of teenage girls were shopping at the south Winnipeg mall when a man started following them and they went into a store to try and evade him, police have said.
In a post shared on Facebook, the mother of one of the girls involved said a middle-aged man followed them closely with a paper towel and a "small shiny cylinder" in his hand, and the girl later noticed she had a "sticky white substance" on her back and in her hair.
Police had previously said they were concerned the substance may have been some kind of bodily fluid, but they wouldn't know for sure until the forensic examination was complete.
"The girls involved in the situation had a substance deposited on them that they didn't really know what it was and I think they suspected it was something, I guess, worst-case scenario, but I don't think they were ever 100 per cent sure," Murray said.
While no charges are being laid in the case, Murray stressed that the teens have legitimate concerns and they did the right thing by bringing those concerns to police.
"If anyone is ever in a similar situation like this, by all means, please approach us and approach us very quickly," he said.
"When you look at kind of what happened to them and how they felt, it's a very serious incident, and that's why we're here to investigate these matters. And ultimately in this situation, we found out that this wasn't a worst-case scenario, this wasn't a biological substance that was put on them. But absolutely, they did nothing wrong."