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Seven students taken to hospital after pepper spray incident

Chicago Fire Dept. EMS personal escorting students from Beasley Academic Center after student sprayed some pepper spray lunchroom. | Wednesday

Chicago Fire Dept. EMS personal escorting students from the Beasley Academic Center, after a student sprayed some pepper spray in the lunchroom. | Wednesday, January 16, 2013. Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

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Updated: January 16, 2013 8:15PM

Police were talking to a 10-year-old student at a South Side elementary school to determine if the spraying of a substance believed to be Mace in a school cafeteria Wednesday morning that led to seven students being taken to hospitals was intentional or accidental.

About 8:40 a.m., a can of Mace was triggered at the Beasley Magnet Academic Center, 5255 S. State St., police said. About 9:20 a.m., an EMS Plan I response, which sends at least five ambulances, was called for the school because several people were sprayed with pepper spray, according to Fire Media Affairs. According to preliminary reports, a student sprayed Mace in the lunchroom, police said.

“Seven students were transported to nearby hospitals as a precautionary measure after being sprayed with an unidentified liquid by a fellow student this morning,” CPS spokeswoman Marielle Sainvilus said in a statement via e-mail. “That student has been removed from the premises.”

The hospitals included Comer Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago Hospitals and Mercy Hospital, according to police.

Police were speaking to a 10-year-old boy who pulled the trigger on the Mace, to try to determine if the incident was an accident or intentional, Mirabelli said.

By late Wednesday, Sainvilus said it sounded like the spraying was not intentional. No disciplinary action had been taken, though she said there will be “once they finish getting to the bottom of who was involved.”

Sainvilus added that it has not been confirmed as of late Wednesday what was contained in the liquid. She also said parents of the affected students were notified immediately, and a letter and robocalls were going out to all parents notifying them of the incident. She did not know Wednesday evening if anyone had been released from hospitals.

Contributing: Lauren FitzPatrick

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