MADISON LAKE, Minn. (AP) _ When two young women kept spraying him with water guns at the Tator Days Parade, a police chief decided to shoot back - with a pepper-based spray that authorities say hit a group of bystanders.

Police Chief Donn Browne was suspended without pay for five days after the confrontation last weekend in nearby Eagle Lake, and police there said they recommended he be charged with disorderly conduct. Prosecutors said they were awaiting police paperwork before making any decision.

Browne accidentally hit 11 people with the stinging spray, including a 4- year-old and a 74-year-old, said Eagle Lake Officer Leo Brosard.

The spray is nontoxic but causes eye and sinus irritation. Police use it instead of chemical sprays like Mace because its effects are less serious.

Witnesses said two women with Supersoaker squirt guns repeatedly shot water at Browne as he passed out candy from his patrol car.

When they fired again at the end of the parade route, Brosard said, Browne fired back.

The chief could not be reached for comment, but Madison Lake Mayor Jerry Groebner said he realized he made a serious mistake.

''He was in tears,'' Groebner said. ''He was just very shook up about it.''

The women, who Bosard said were in their late teens or early twenties, have not been charged.

''I think they were just playful,'' said Groebner. ''It was a festive event.''