Student arrested in spray incident Fort High evacuated

A 15-year-old Fort Frances High School student was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of bringing an unknown substance to the school and releasing it in a stairwell.
“It was some type of a pepper spray. It may have been a bear spray, but we don’t know that for a fact,” said FFHS principal Gord McCabe. “The police have said it was a very potent spray.”
The substance did cause a reaction among some students.
“Some students were complaining of having some trouble breathing,” McCabe noted. “We sent approximately 20 students to hospital, just to be checked.
“They were all treated and released.”
Some students returned to class while other opted to have their parents pick them up and go home.
“We’ve had certainly no information of long-lasting effects, which is good news,” McCabe said.
Laura Mills, superintendent of business at the Rainy River District School Board, confirmed there were no serious injuries stemming from the incident.
The Fort Frances Fire Department, OPP, and paramedics attended the scene. The school was evacuated immediately, at around 9 a.m.
“We systematically removed the students from the school and set up ventilation fans,” noted Fire Chief Steve Richardson.
Students and staff were readmitted to the school once it was deemed safe, at around 11 a.m., and classes resumed.
When asked if the spray had gone off accidentally, McCabe replied, “No, this was sprayed by the individual.”
He added that the spray was not aimed at anyone. “It wasn’t sprayed at an individual,” he remarked.
The youth, who was arrested at the scene, cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. The OPP did not say Thursday morning whether any charges had been laid yet.
Because Confederation College has a separate air circulation system, it was not evacuated although the doors between the two facilities were closed off.
The incident remains under investigation.