Balto. Co. school evacuated, 16 sent to hospital from pepper spray

A school security officer used pepper spray to break up a fight between two students at an Essex high school, causing the school to be evacuated and sending 16 students to the hospital Tuesday morning, officials said.

About 11:30 a.m., two students started a fight in the front lobby of Chesapeake High School, in the 1800 block of Turkey Point Road, according to a statement from Baltimore County police.

A school resource officer saw two boys fighting as they were leaving lunch and attempted to break up the fight. The boys assaulted the officer, according to Cathy Batton, a police spokeswoman. Batton said she did not know how the officer was assaulted.

With the help of a staff member at the school, the officer was able to separate the two boys, but one of the boys he was restraining continued to struggle, Batton said. After the officer warned the boy he was going to use pepper spray, the boy began attacking the second boy again. "At that point the pepper spray was used," Batton said. "I think it is important to note that our officer used the least amount of force. Using the pepper spray was his last resort."

Sixteen students were sent to three nearby hospitals to be treated for pepper spray exposure. The emergency response demanded seven ambulances, an EMS lieutenant and a fire engine.

Chesapeake was evacuated for roughly 45 minutes while fire crews ventilated the building. One student was arrested because of the fight, and has been charged as a juvenile with assaulting a police officer, according to Batton.

steve.kilar@baltsun.com

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liz.bowie@baltsun.com

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