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Florida woman allegedly uses ‘maximum strength’ bear spray on her sister and a 1-year-old boy to end an argument about parking space

Danica Hightower appears in a booking photo

Danica Hightower appears in a booking photo on Sept. 1, 2023. (Broward Sheriff’s Office)

A Florida woman used a can of bear spray on her adult sister and a 1-year-old baby boy during an argument over a parking space, authorities in Broward County allege.

Danica Chakira Hightower, 19, stands accused of one felony count each of aggravated child abuse and burglary with assault or battery, as well as one misdemeanor count of battery causing bodily harm, according to court records in the case obtained by Law&Crime.

She faces over 60 years in prison if sentenced as charged.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office says the incident occurred on Sept. 1 in Deerfield Beach, a medium-sized city and Miami suburb named after the sheer number of deer mice that previously lived in the area, roughly a mile due south of Palm Beach County, outside of the small and squat apartment complex where the defendant lives.

Just before 8:30 p.m., Hightower took out a 9-ounce can of Mace brand Guard Alaska-style bear spray and used it on the two victims, according to the BCSO arrest report. The court document alleges the defendant used the Mace-produced bear spray – which is considered the “maximum strength” version by the company.

Bear spray is typically considered stronger than traditional pepper spray due to its intent for use on large and dangerous animals, like bears, whereas pepper spray is considered relatively milder in chemical composition and is intended to be used on humans.

“Danica’s intentional act could reasonably be expected to result in injury to the child,” BSO Deputy Richard Attonito wrote – accusing Hightower of intentionally attacking her sister and the child.

The redacted booking report goes on to describe the alleged motive as a “verbal dispute outside of the residence over a parking space.”

“[The victims] were sitting in their vehicle with the windows open,” the court document reads. “Danica exited her vehicle and produced a cannister [sic] of pepper spray and proceeded to spray. She then proceeded to continue spraying the pepper spray hitting [redacted] through the open window.”

The filing notes the presence of a third party – whose name is being withheld entirely – who later told law enforcement about the incident and offered the same story as Hightower’s sister. The document goes on to name two other people who were in Hightower’s car with her at the time who also confirmed the attack occurred and the order of events.

According to the BSO, the young child suffered the most.

“Upon my arrival I observed [redacted] holding [her son] who was in an extreme state of distress and suffering from the effects of being pepper sprayed,” the deputy wrote in the booking report. “I met with [redacted] who also displayed signs of a person who is suffering from the effects of pepper spray.”

According to Broward County court records reviewed by Law&Crime, Hightower appeared in court this week and was released from jail.

A no-contact order was issued as a condition of bond and the case was determined to be an instance of domestic violence. The defendant does not currently have an attorney of record.

The BCSO told Law&Crime they have not issued a news release on the case.

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