Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

37 treated after pepper spray incident at Brandon middle school

BRANDON — Thirty-six Brandon students and a school employee were hospitalized Friday afternoon after a student discharged pepper spray at McLane Middle School, authorities said.

It happened about 2:30 p.m. in a crowded hallway, with students moving between classes, said Hills­borough County school district spokesman Stephen Hegarty.

Authorities say 93 students and three teachers were affected — "coughing, watery eyes, scratchy throats," Hegarty said. A 12-year-old girl was taken into custody Friday afternoon on a misdemeanor charge of disruption of school function, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. She was taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center, where she was set to be released to a parent.

Solanch Echevarria, 14, described the incident as chaotic and "like a horror movie."

She was in hall 200, which contains mostly sixth-grade classes, when, according to Solanch, "all of a sudden someone started spraying Mace."

"Everybody was running out of the 200 building," she later told reporters. "There was crying and screaming."

Two of her friends were affected by the spray. One girl's eyes started burning, Solanch said, and the other girl's nose started burning and she had trouble breathing.

Authorities evacuated the hall and set up a triage in the school's cafeteria. And though many were affected, all injuries appeared to be minor, according to the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office — including those of three students who had pre-existing respiratory problems, such as asthma.

Those three students were taken to Brandon Regional Hospital by Hillsborough Fire Rescue's "advanced life support" ambulance as a precaution, according to the agency.

Fourteen other people were taken to the hospital by AmeriCare ambulances, and 20 more were transported by a school bus. All were treated and released, the Sheriff's Office said.

At 5:30 p.m., authorities were interviewing a 12-year-old suspect in the school's office, at 306 N Knights Ave.

"Pepper spray does not have lasting effects, but it is really painful in the sense of burning in the eyes and coughing and that, of course, was the intent," Hegarty said. He later said criminal charges against the child are possible. Authorities did not release the child's name. Sheriff's Maj. Clyde Eisenberg said deputies are investigating whether the incident was premeditated.

McLane principal Frank Oliver said he thinks the student did not anticipate this type of reaction.

"We live in a time where kids don't take things as seriously as they should," Oliver said. "I'm sure the person who did this didn't know all of this was going to happen and didn't expect there would be all of this attention."

Oliver said he was very disheartened.

"We just got through a good testing season," he said. "I'm very disappointed with all this commotion."

Times researcher John Martin and Times staff writers Marlene Sokol, Keeley Sheehan and Will Hobson contributed to this report.

37 treated after pepper spray incident at Brandon middle school 05/03/13 [Last modified: Friday, May 3, 2013 11:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Romano: Sinkholes take Florida's quirks to a whole 'nother level

    Public Safety

    So all of this — the beaches, palm trees and fresh grouper sandwiches — comes with a few extenuating costs. To live in Florida is to accept a lifestyle of hazards, both peculiar and deadly. Lightning strikes and hurricanes, for example. Alligators and sharks, too. Floods, drug traffickers, spring break and …

    Two days after a sinkhole opened in front of her Spring Hill home in 2014, Linda Fisher packs up to leave for good.
  2. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 18: Despite feeling ill, this pilgrim passes the midpoint in her 500-mile journey on foot

    Travel

    Day 18: Lédigos to El Burgo Ranero: 34.3 km, 12.25 hours (Total for Days 1-18 = 428 km (266 miles)

    Today was a struggle.

  3. Former Rays/current Cubs manager Joe Maddon featured on NBC Sunday news show

    Blogs

    Former Rays and current Cubs manager Joe Maddon will be featured on this week's "Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly" show at 7 p.m. on NBC, the Harry Smith interview covering not just Maddon's on-field accomplishments but his extensive efforts to help his hometown of Hazleton, Pa.

    "Here's what's so …

    Joe Maddon talking with NBC News' Harry Smith.
  4. For starters: Souza returns to lineup

    Blogs

     

  5. Actor John Heard dies at age 72

    Blogs

    John Heard, who played so many roles in the '80s but was probably best known as the dad in the Home Alone movies, has died, according to media reports. He was 72.