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2 arrested after investigation finds pepper spray caused Mass. hazmat incident

Emergency responders previously said they could not determine the source of the odor that caused breathing problems at a community college building

The Standard-Times, New Bedford, Mass.

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — The investigation into the previously unidentified odor that affected students and staff at Bristol Community College in New Bedford has resulted in charges brought against two juveniles who allegedly dispersed pepper spray within the building at 800 Purchase St.

The two juveniles are students at City on a Hill-New Bedford Charter School. As juvenile suspects, their names are being withheld.

The two suspects will be charged with: trespassing, disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace of a school, and possession of mace under the age of 18.

Twenty Bristol Community College students and employees experienced trouble breathing and received medical attention after the 800 Purchase St. campus was evacuated following a report of an unknown odor Thursday morning.

A message that went out to BCC students, faculty and staff, which was obtained by The Standard-Times, said the source of the odor was identified as “a 10 percent concentrate pepper spray that is easily available.”

The message also stated, “This is an ongoing investigation between the New Bedford Police Department, New Bedford Fire Department and Bristol Community College Police Department, therefore we are unable to share any further details at this time. We do wish to assure you that this is an isolated incident with no further risk.”

The campus was closed for the day Thursday but resumed normal operations on Friday.

Participating in the response and subsequent investigation were the New Bedford Police Department, Bristol Community College campus Police Department, New Bedford Fire Department, New Bedford Emergency Management Office, New Bedford EMS, and the state Fire Marshal Regional Haz-Mat Unit.


©2019 The Standard-Times, New Bedford, Mass.