Tear Gas Training Sickens Local Elementary School Students

(NationalUSNews.com) — An elementary school in San Bruno, California, suffered an unintended fallout from a nearby police training exercise on Tuesday, May 21.

The San Francisco Sheriff’s Office was conducting a two-hour crowd control training session at the San Bruno jail, roughly a mile away from Portola Elementary School. The training exercises that day involved the use of tear gas and pepper spray. The SF Sheriff’s Office has been conducting these training sessions at this location for 20 years and says there has never been an incident like this before.

It is believed that the gas from inside the jail structure drifted outside, and then high winds carried it into the vicinity of the school. Staff and 20 students reported feeling burning sensations in their eyes, noses and throats, and emergency services were called to the scene. Firefighters and paramedics assessed and treated those who were affected, but nobody required hospitalization. Mythily Sivarajah says that her son has asthma and experienced a severely adverse reaction to the drifting chemicals that day.

Spokeswoman for the Sherrif’s Office, Tara Moriarty, gave a public statement detailed what happened. The training session took place around 12:45 pm in an “isolated section” of the jail. She emphasized that these exercises are vital to law enforcement as they provide hands-on experience with chemical agents. This allows them to test equipment safety and helps prepare them both physically and mentally for real world circumstances such as a hostage situation or a barricaded suspect. Sheriff Paul Miyamoto was clear that these chemical irritants are used by law enforcement in outdoor crowd control situations although the training took place indoors.

The Sherrif’s Office apologized for the incident, acknowledging it must have been very scary for the children, their families and school staff. Miyamoto announced they will be pausing all such chemical agent training sessions until officials can review the current training practices. They said that the incident was completely unforeseen due to the fact that they hadn’t experienced anything like it in the 20 years they’ve been conducting the exercises at that location. The Sheriff’s office is clear that their review will include a focus on making them safer for the whole community.

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