standing Stonington High School

MYSTIC — The dispersal of pepper spray that led to the evacuation of the Mystic Marriott ballroom on Saturday night was unintentional, the Groton Town Police Department reported.

The incident occurred at the end of the Stonington High School senior prom, and three students were taken to Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in New London, where they were evaluated, treated and released.

The police announced Wednesday said they had completed their investigation. "The investigation determined that this discharge was unintentional and there was no intent (by the victim) to harm anyone at the prom,"Police Chief Luis J. Fusaro Jr. said. "No criminal charges are anticipated."

Police, fire officials and several ambulances were called to the hotel, at 625 North Road in Groton, around 9:45 p.m. for reports of a strange odor in the ballroom that was having an ill effect on those in attendance.

Besides the three students, several others also reported feeling ill or having minor trouble breathing, but did not need to go to the hospital, officials indicated.

The police said they found "that there was an unintentional discharge of pepper spray by a juvenile Stonington High School student." The police did not indicate the manner in which the spray was discharged.

In an email to parents Wednesday night, Stonington High School Principal Mark Friese emphasized that the irritant was not sprayed with any intent to disrupt or harm those in attendance. "We want to share, once again, that all of our students are fine and we will evaluate our practices to prevent this type of incident from occurring again in the future," he said.

School officials made it clear that they were not holding the student blameless. "The student has received appropriate consequences for this offense," Friese said.

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