(MINNEAPOLIS) — Students and staff at a Minneapolis school are recovering from a violent incident involving more than 200 of its pupils Thursday afternoon.
South High School posted a statement on its website regarding the “food fight” the school says escalated into an event in which “mace was used [by police] to break up the crowds of students” when “some students ignored requests to disperse.”
As a result of the incident, three students and two members of the staff were hospitalized for injury. Thirteen students were also evaluated on scene for complaints of effects of exposure to mace.
A crowd of “200-300″ students began pushing, shoving and throwing items that may have included garbage, food and bottles during the school’s third lunch period. The situation became “too unruly for school staff and the two on-campus school resource officers to handle,” Sgt. William Palmer of the Minneapolis Police Department told ABC News. Police were called and 10 officers responded.
When some students refused to disperse and instead began “pelting police” with items, according to Palmer, two officers utilized their personal cans of mace to “spray the area” and regain order. Palmer says police did not target any one student.
Guled Omar, a student who witnessed the scene, believes the violence may have had something to do with racial discrimination. He told the Star Tribune in Minneapolis that he and other Somali-American students at the school feel targeted.
When asked whether or not he believed racial discrimination played a part in the incident, Minneapolis Public Schools director of communication Stan Alleyne said he could not comment.
The school will continue to operate under a “code yellow” security status “until further notice,” a spokesman from Alleyne’s office told ABC News. This will require students to remain in their classrooms during periods and limits access into and out of the building.
No arrests were made.
“The cause is under investigation,” Palmer said.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Heather Kelly, CNN
Steven Visser and John Newsome, CNN