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'It was pretty crazy': Students voice concerns about safety after East High School fight

  • Updated
Students Express Concerns About Safety

Police: Pepper Spray Used After Student 'Assaulted' Officer

MADISON (WKOW) -- Students are voicing concerns about safety after a fight broke out at East High School Monday and Madison police officers used pepper spray to break it up.

The incident began when police received a call about a fight around 11:30 a.m. Around the same time, school officials say the fire alarm was pulled. Students were dismissed and police say fighting continued outside.

“I was walking back from McDonald's and I saw cops and ambulances drive by,” freshman Porter Hagerty said. "It was pretty crazy."

A video taken by a student shows several fights unfolding and a student being sprayed with pepper spray.

According to Police Chief Shon Barnes, one altercation resulted in an officer being assaulted by a hand to the face.

"The officer then deployed two bursts of pepper spray into the crowd," Barnes said.

Eight students were treated for pepper spray exposure—three on site and five at the hospital. School officials said they are in stable condition and there are no reports of staff being hurt.

Barnes said the student who allegedly injured the officer was cited and released. A second student was cited and released for having an edged weapon.

Police believe the incident stemmed from a prior incident over the weekend.

Going forward, some students say they worry about their safety.

“I’m kind of concerned," sophomore Adrian Perez said. "My mom is thinking about switching me to online school."

Perez added that fights have been common over the last few months and he would like to see the school do a better job of de-escalating them.

"Better communication for sure," Perez said.

Carlton Jenkins, superintendent of the Madison Metropolitan School District, said they are working to come up with a safety plan for students when they return to school Tuesday and into the future.

"We know that 98% of students on a daily basis are doing the right thing. This is an awesome staff, an awesome school," Jenkins said. "We are coming out of a 20-month-old pandemic that has really brought some real serious social and emotional needs in the community that's spilling over into schools just like this incident."

Madison Metropolitan School District got rid of police officers in schools last year after the school board voted to remove them.

Jenkins said they are still assessing whether to bring them back.