ORLANDO, Fla. – As many as 50 students were pepper-sprayed at an Orlando high school when a school resource officer tried to break up a fight between two students, witnesses told WKMG-TV.
Orange County Public Schools said Edgewater High School was placed on lockdown just before noon when the students refused to stop fighting outside the cafeteria.
Orlando police said two students will face charges, but it's not clear if they were directly involved in the fight. A male student will be charged with battery on staff, resisting without violence and disorderly conduct and a female student will be charged with disorderly conduct and resisting without violence, according to police.
About 200 students were gathered near the fight, and approximately 50 of them were affected by the pepper-sprayed, the witnesses said.
"They were screaming because they couldn't see. they were just yelling, running around," sophomore Taylor Fleetwood said.
"There was people throwing up to people just coughing like crazy. Like me, I got affected by it. I was constantly coughing," senior Kaylyn Forman said.
OCPS sent out a robo call to parents alerting them of the lockdown and the officer's actions.
"Law enforcement's verbal commands were also ignored," Edgewater High School's principal said in a call to parents. "The (school resource officer) used pepper spray to control the situation before it escalated any further."
The school nurse and Orlando Fire Rescue treated the students, but school officials said they did not know the exact number of students affected by pepper spray. The fire department says it sent three students to the hospital complaining of eye irritation and chest pains.
School officials said the fight was an isolated incident.
Students and parents think the situation should have been handled differently.
"I don't think they should have maced the crowd. And kids couldn't see like that. They did it for no reason," Taylor Fleetwood said.
"They were probably just trying to get control, however I don't know if that was the best tactic to use," Taylor's mom Joy Fleetwood said.
No other details were immediately available.
OCPS says administrators are investigating and the students involved in the fight could face disciplinary actions.