Friday, October 19th, 2018

Pepper spray discharged in Lower Brooks

Posted on September 21, 2015 in News
By USM Free Press

Abigail Johnson-Ruscansky | The Free Press

By Thomas Fitzgerald, News Intern

The Brooks Student Center on the Gorham campus was unexpectedly evacuated last Saturday night, causing unrest among students and many still unanswered questions.

Carly Coombs, a sophomore communications major, was working in the building at the time. She recounts the moments before the evacuation happened, saying that she sat in Lower Brooks when students were suddenly told to evacuate the building around 10:30 p.m.

Little did she know that pepper spray had been discharged on the lower level of Brooks, and five students were required to seek further medical attention from Gorham fire and rescue.  

“I don’t know if they’re taking any criminal action and I’m still not really sure what even happened,” said Coombs. “I just know that it was an incident involving pepper spray and some students had a very bad reaction to it.”

Students that have asthma that were in the building at the time of the incident were the most affected by it. The negative reaction is common among people with asthma, as the active chemical in pepper spray can contribute to coughing and shortness of breath.

Although many students are still trying to put the pieces together, Joy Pufhal, Dean of Students and executive director of student life,  has been working hard to come up with solutions to the issue.

“Students and staff started to present a cough and itchy and burning eyes. The cause was later determined to be a small amount of pepper spray that was discharged at a table near the Husky Hideaway,” stated Pufhal, “USM Police Safety does know the names of the students who were involved. At this time Public Safety is still gathering information and a decision has not yet been made as to criminal charges.”

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