Pepper spray sends Nanaimo girl to hospital

NANAIMO – Girl injured by pepper spray left on elementary school doors.

An 11-year-old girl was treated in hospital Thursday after she touched what appeared to be bear spray applied to a door at McGirr Elementary School.

The incident happened at about 11 a.m. when the Grade 5 student entered her classroom through an outside door during a recess and got a sticky substance on her fingers.

The girl came into the school with eyes stinging and burning from what staff initially thought might be an allergic reaction. She was taken to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital by her grandfather and released later that day.

Donna Reimer, school district spokeswoman, confirmed that the substance, which police said is consistent with bear spray or pepper spray, was sprayed on three doors on the west side of the school.

Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman, said the substance was likely sprayed on the doors the previous night, but not discovered until late morning the first time the doors were used.

The girl was not seriously hurt, but was traumatized by the incident. A school district maintenance crew removed the substance from the doors.

“We had a similar incident at Woodbank Primary a few years ago on the playground equipment,” Reimer said.

Several children playing on the equipment were affected in that incident.

“I just want to get across how problematic this can be because it has the potential to hurt children,” she said.

Police are continuing to investigate the incident at McGirr.

“This was shear stupidity involved in a senseless, thoughtless act that could have had serious ramifications to the health of these little kids,” O’Brien said.