RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – A Rio Rancho High School student is facing charges for spraying pepper spray on a school bus.
It happened Tuesday afternoon in a neighborhood near Rainbow Boulevard and Southern Boulevard in Rio Rancho.
Students were getting off at a stop there.
“We all started coughing and I thought it just, we like had a dry throat, and then the bus driver started coughing,” said Trinity Martinez, a freshman at Rio Rancho High.
“It makes your throat completely dry and you can’t breath and you start coughing and you don’t really know why,” said Brian Bonner, a freshman at Rio Rancho High.
A dozen students and the bus driver were all feeling the effects of pepper spray.
Rio Rancho Police say a 17-year-old student was spraying it in the air.
Everyone got off the bus while police and paramedics responded. Everyone was okay and a spokesperson for the school district says students were taken home on other buses.
Police say the teen claims he had the pepper spray to protect himself from a bully, although the bully had already gotten off the bus when he sprayed the pepper spray. He’s facing a disorderly conduct charge for spraying the pepper spray and a tampering with evidence charge for trying to hide the pepper spray in his pants.
Students who were on the bus tell KRQE News 13 the suspect had sprayed pepper spray on the bus weeks before. Police say the teen admitted to doing it three weeks ago although it’s unclear if the incident was ever reported.
The school district tells KRQE News 13 that student is now facing potential discipline at school for the incident. The incident may have been captured on the school bus’ surveillance camera.