Four men evading arrest for shoplifting at a neighborhood Wal-Mart triggered a small blast in the store using swimming pool chemicals in an incident that left four others hospitalized, authorities said.

Authorities said one of the men was seen by a store employee placing a toy inside his pants. As the employee went for help, the men headed to the section where the pool chemicals were stocked and mixed a chlorine-based chemical with another item, said Lt. Jason Bolton of the Henry County Police. The chemical reaction created a small explosion and filled the store with white smoke.

"They made their escape in the chaos that ensued," Bolton told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for a Monday story. "It's just hard to believe they did something like this to shoplift something as insignificant as a toy."

Four people, including an employee, were hospitalized for respiratory problems following the incident Sunday night. Three others were treated by emergency workers outside the store.

Bolton said the men turned a shoplifting misdemeanor into more serious charges, including "one of terroristic acts."