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Narbonne High students get pepper-sprayed after fight breaks out

October 4, 2012 |  5:15 pm

Students leave Narbonne High, where pepper spray was used to break up a fight

Forty-seven students at Narbonne High School in Harbor City were examined Thursday by paramedics for minor respiratory and eye irritation after school police broke up a fistfight by discharging pepper spray, an official said.

During the morning nutrition break at about 10 a.m., two female students began fighting, and the altercation drew a large crowd, according to a statement from the school. The crowd prevented a Los Angeles School Police officer from reaching a fallen student and breaking up the fight, according to the statement.

"The crowd did not heed commands to disperse by school staff or the officer," the statement read. "Concerned for the safety of the fallen student and for the officer’s own safety, the officer dispensed a short burst of pepper spray into the air to disperse the crowd."

Students hit with pepper spray rinsed their eyes and some briefly accepted oxygen; a 16-year-old with lingering respiratory irritation was in good condition at a hospital, said Brian Humphrey, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Ran’niyah Gill, a 14-year-old ninth-grader, said the fight began between her and another female student in a dispute over a boy. Gill said her cousin soon came to her defense and started fighting while three girls joined the other side.

"One girl just kept going off, then she hit me," Gill said. "We just started fighting, and more girls jumped in."

Gill and other students said a female official aimed the pepper spray at the fighting students and others who had gathered to watch.

"She held it up in the air and Maced everybody," Gill said.

Gill’s mother, Carlisha Jamerson, said she was angry at school officials for their handling of the incident. She said she first heard about it from her niece, who was involved in the fight, rather than school officials.

"The procedure wasn’t done right," Jamerson said after arriving at the school to pick up her daughter. "No one helps me. Bullying keeps going on. I’m scared to bring my daughter back" to school.

Kimberly Williams, the mother of a 14-year-old freshman who allegedly was sprayed, also said the school did not call her. Her daughter, Tyleelah Agagee, said she became sick on her way to her fourth-period class after getting sprayed on her nose and mouth.

School police are investigating the use of pepper spray, officials said. Parents and guardians will receive a letter from the school principal, and counselors will be available to students Friday.  

-- Matt Stevens in Harbor City

Photo: Students are released from Narbonne High School in Harbor City after 47 students were examined Thursday after school police broke up a fight by discharging pepper spray. Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times