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15-Year-Old Held in Attack on Students : Caustic Spray Injures 14 on School Bus

Times Staff Writer

Fourteen junior high school students being bused to East Los Angeles from Van Nuys suffered minor injuries to their eyes and faces when a pedestrian sprayed a caustic liquid through the windows of their bus Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.

Wayne Snyder, a bus supervisor with the Los Angeles Unified School District, said the students were on their way home from Van Nuys Junior High School when an unknown amount of the liquid was sprayed into the bus near the corner of Clark Street and Van Nuys Boulevard at about 3:10 p.m.

The bus pulled to the side of Van Nuys Boulevard after several of the children began complaining of itching and burning in and around the eyes, Snyder said.

Fourteen of the 45 students on the bus were transported to five area hospitals by paramedics, Los Angeles City Fire Department spokesman Larry Ford said. Spokesmen at the hospitals said none of the students were admitted.

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Sgt. Jeffrey Burgress of the school district’s police department said a 15-year-old continuation school student was arrested three hours after the incident for assault with a caustic chemical. The suspect was not identified because of his age.

No Motive Given

Burgess said a spray canister was found at the scene of the incident. It contained an ammonia-based liquid similar to that used by mail carriers to ward off animal attacks, he said.

Police did not offer a motive for the spraying.

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Gwen Ingram, a spokeswoman for the district police department, which has full arrest powers, said the bus was bound for Magnolia Elementary School in East Los Angeles.

The accident prompted a response from three ambulances, a fire engine and a hazardous-materials team from the Los Angeles City Fire Department.

Several students traveling on the bus said the caustic liquid came from a schoolmate standing on Van Nuys Boulevard.

Burgess said the suspect was being held late Wednesday at the Los Angeles Police Department’s Van Nuys Division.

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