AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - Emergency units arrived at Lamar Middle School shortly after 10:00 a.m. Wednesday morning. Pepper spray had filled several hallways and at least 20 students were overcome by the spray.
Some were still showing the effects of it as they left campus with their parents. "There was quite some panic, a lot of coughing, Kind of hard to tell if they were panicking or coughing,” said Griffin Powell.
The 6th Grader told FOX 7 that at first he didn’t know what the smell was. Remnants of the spray, according to Powell, were still lingering in the building when he and others were brought back inside. “I just started coughing and my throat felt scratchy, lungs lighter than normal, really strange,” said Powell.
A letter was sent to parents from the interim principal Myra Mondik about the incident. It states that the pepper spray was set off by a student, who was not identified. The letter also points out that the student code of conduct includes pepper spray as one of items not allowed on campus.
"And it got into the vents, and it just went all over the halls,” said 6th Grader Ruby Hartnett
The incident, may have been a prank gone bad, according to Hartnett. "It smells really bad in there. Right now, it smells gross. it just if you get it in your eyes it’s not good, and a lot of kids were sitting down the hallway doing work, and it's just a really mean thing to do, I don’t think the people that did it meant anyone to get hurt, but they did,” said Hartnett.
All the kids were treated on site, no one was taken away by ambulance.
"They put like clean water in my eyes to help the burning,” said Oliver Desporte.
Parents and guardians, like Karen Hill, spoke to FOX 7 about how the school handled the situation, and about getting calls from their kids. "Well your heart drops, you see so many negative things in the news, already with schools going on, and the message I got from him was kind of scary, mom somebody gassed the school because he didn't know what was going on, all he knew was he was burning and couldn't breathe,“ said Hill.
Heather Powell was thankful no one was seriously hurt. "I have to hope for the best, I have to believe in the best and this is just a one off situation and Officer Pearce and the Lamar Team have it under control,“ said Powell.
Shelly Sanders, who picked up her nephew, said she is hoping it won’t take long for her nephew and others to recover. "He is asthmatic, was caught off guard, I’m glad he was ok for the most part."