Edmonton police say a school bus full of children was not the intended target when it was pepper-sprayed during an altercation earlier this week.
The bus carrying 16 elementary students from Holy Cross Academie Internationale was parked on a street in the city’s southwest on Monday afternoon when two vehicles drove by and an occupant in one of the vehicles deployed what appeared to be pepper spray.
Police said the substance wafted into the bus through its open windows and the driver and all of the students aboard were affected.
One student told CTV News Edmonton that two fellow students were vomiting. A spokesperson for the Edmonton Catholic School District said most of the students suffered irritated eyes and one child had a nosebleed.
The driver reported the incident and evacuated the bus. Emergency services were quick to respond and no one needed to be transported to hospital.
Debbie Hunter, the director of student transportation services at Edmonton Catholic Schools District, praised the bus driver for prioritizing the children’s safety, even though she was also feeling the effects of the spray herself.
“We’re very pleased by the actions taken by the Southland bus driver,” she told CTV News Edmonton on Tuesday. “The fact that she’s returned to work has a positive effect on the students as well that, you know, you can’t let something like a random incident like this, take you away from your routine.”
Investigators said the bus wasn’t purposely targeted and it was just caught in the crossfire during an altercation between two other parties. They said they don’t have anyone in custody in relation to the case.
“I think there was potential for the children to be seriously harmed,” Hunter said. “We’re glad to hear that it wasn’t targeted.”
The Edmonton Catholic School District’s spokesperson said this is the first time they’ve ever had to deal with an incident like this.
The elementary school’s assistant principal told CTV News Edmonton that all 16 children who were on board the bus at the time of the altercation returned to classes on Tuesday.