As many as two dozen students at a South Los Angeles high school were affected by pepper spray Thursday after a police officer used it to break up a trio of lunchtime fights, officials said.
A couple of "spontaneous altercations" between female students broke out near the main office at Fremont Senior High School shortly before 11:30 a.m., said Los Angeles School Police Chief Steven Zipperman in a news release.
An officer responded and, in an effort to end the fight quickly, resorted to using pepper spray — but the cloud of irritant reached other students as well, Zipperman said.
The number of students affected differed between the fire department, police, school and classmates.
"It burned like hell. My face was burning, my eyes was — I can't really describe it, it was horrible," said 18-year-old Divine Herron, a student caught in the pepper spray crossfire when he was pushed into the officer.
"He turned around and he started pepper spraying me directly in my eyes and he wouldn't stop," said Herron, still rubbing his eyes as he walked out of school with his mother.
Other students described a chaotic scene.
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"I just seen all the kids running and all the kids were screaming out loud because they got pepper sprayed," student Mike Santos said.
In all, about 25 students were exposed to the mist, but only one was targeted, police said.
"There was a breeze and they got an over-spray," School Police Sgt. Julie Spry said.
Most of the patients complained of minor eye irritation and two suffered minor injuries from the altercation, the Los Angeles Fire Department said.
No one was taken to the hospital and no arrests were made.
Zipperman said parents were notified and the school resumed normal operations.
The officer's decision to use pepper spray will be reviewed, Zipperman said.
Nyree Arabian contributed to this report.