SOUTH BRUNSWICK – Two students have been charged after pepper spray was found to be the irritant that caused an evacuation at South Brunswick High School (SBHS) on March 11.
The South Brunswick Police Department (SBPD) was notified about several students reporting eye and throat irritation following exposure to a chemical odor in a science classroom at SBHS around 12:25 p.m.
Upon police arrival, school administration decided to evacuate the school while the source of the odor was determined, according to reports.
While approximately 3,000 students and staff evacuated the building, 12 additional police officers responded to maintain safety and security, according to the statement from the SBPD on March 14.
Fire departments from Monmouth Junction, Kendall Park and Kingston responded to the scene with four trucks and a total of 23 firefighters, according to the statement. Fire personnel entered the building in full gear to evaluate the source and nature of the chemical irritant.
Fire officials requested a response from the Middlesex County Hazardous Materials Team, who responded to the scene.
First Aid squads from South Brunswick, Plainsboro and Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory responded with three ambulances and six EMTs. They evaluated the students complaining of eye and throat irritation, and provided support for fire operations and the HazMat Team, according to the statement.
After more than an hour of investigation, it was determined that the chemical irritant was pepper spray, according to the statement. The building was ventilated, and students and staff were allowed to re-enter the building.
An investigation by Detective Scott Bucca and school administration determined that a male student brought a canister of pepper spray to a classroom and was showing it to several other students. Another male student took the pepper spray and discharged it into two lab sinks, according to reports. The discharge caused other students to be exposed to the irritant and leading to the evacuation of the school and full-scale emergency response.
In total, 23 emergency vehicles and 46 first responders were involved in the incident, which lasted for an hour and 25 minutes, with the follow-up investigation lasting into late afternoon, police said.
The two students involved in the incident have been charged with juvenile delinquency and were released to their parents.