A large brawl between rival gang members at Atlantic High School led police officers to deploy pepper spray Tuesday on a crowd of students eating lunch in the school’s courtyard, police said.
Several students, including some who were not involved in the brawl, were hit by pepper spray and had to be treated for their injuries in the school’s clinic, according to a school district spokeswoman and a school parent.
Police say the brawl happened about 11:15 a.m. after an argument between two students: Yonel Beaubrun, 18, and another student they say is from a rival gang.
A police report described Beaubrun as a “known and documented west-side gang member” and the other student as a “known and documented south-side gang member.”
The argument between the two students escalated into a brawl between “several gang-related subjects,” the police report stated.
“The altercation grew in size, so much that several police officers and administrators were unable to break up the fight,” a school district police officer wrote in a report. Delray Beach police officers were called in for assistance.
In order to stop the fight, school district police Officer Lisa O’Brien wrote in a report that she decided to deploy pepper spray “in a general direction of the subjects fighting” but “the fighting continued.”
In a brief interview, the alleged south-side gang member involved in the initial argument, a 15-year-old student, denied having any gang affiliation and said police were unfairly portraying him as a gang member because he “got into an altercation with those other kids.” He declined to comment further.
Five students were arrested. Among them: Beaubrun and Adlerson Similien, 18, on a misdemeanor charge of affray, or fighting in public; and Kevin Celestin, 18, on a charge of resisting arrest without violence and disorderly conduct.
A parent of a student who witnessed the incident said the pepper spray also hit other students eating lunch in the courtyard who were not involved in the fighting.
“This happened about 20 feet away from (my son),” the parent said. “Some of the kids at his table got pepper spray in their eyes.”
Atlantic High School’s principal alerted school parents to the incident Tuesday via automated phone calls, school district spokeswoman Kathy Burstein said.