By Neil H. Dempsey
---- — SALEM — Police say a man was pepper-sprayed on Essex Street early yesterday morning during a drug deal gone wrong.
Police received a 12:55 a.m. report that a man had been assaulted with pepper-spray near 217 Essex St., according to the incident log. At least one male witnessed the assault.
The victim, a 48-year-old man, was transported to Salem Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Lt. Scott Englehardt said the victim had been trying to buy drugs on the street when the suspect — described as a white male, 200 pounds, 5 feet 10 inches, with medium-length dark hair and a goatee — sprayed him in the eyes.
It was unclear what type of drugs the man was seeking.
The suspect was reportedly riding an orange mountain bike and wearing dark clothing at the time of the assault. He was last seen fleeing toward Lafayette Street.
Police searched the area but were unable to locate him.