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Children at San Bruno school sickened after accidental release of pepper spray, tear gas at nearby jail

San Francisco sheriff apologizes for chemical release at San Bruno jail
San Francisco sheriff apologizes for chemical release at San Bruno jail 00:56

SAN BRUNO – A release of tear gas and pepper spray during a training exercise at the San Francisco County Jail in San Bruno on Tuesday led to students at a nearby elementary school to become sick, officials said.

Around 12:45 p.m., the sheriff's office was holding what they described as a routine tactical training class for "crowd management, intervention and control." The class, which involves testing of chemical agents including CS gas (chlorobenzylidene malonitrile) and OC gas (oleoresin capsicum, more commonly known as pepper spray), took place in an isolated section of the jail property.

Officials said that the police and fire departments in San Bruno were notified ahead of the training.

During the exercise, officials said gas from the structure drifted to Portola Elementary School, which is less than a mile from the jail. Teachers and students reported burning sensations in the eyes, nose and throat.

"This is an unprecedented situation that we take very seriously," Tara Moriarty of the sheriff's office said in a statement to CBS News Bay Area. "We sincerely apologize to Portola Elementary School, its faculty and students, and their families for this unforeseen event which must have been especially scary for children."

Following the incident, command staff visited the school to explain what happened and to apologize.

In response, the sheriff's office has suspended all future training exercises involving chemical agents as it reviews their practices.

Officials said the site has been used by the sheriff's office and other law enforcement agencies to train for more than 20 years.

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