HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (STMW) — A Highland Park High School student who admitted to spiking marinara sauce in the cafeteria has been charged as a juvenile with five counts of misdemeanor battery.
While going through the cafeteria line May 14, the 17-year-old added a fiery “Da Bomb” pepper sauce to a marinara sauce that students can add to their pasta. The teen told police it was intended as a prank.
“The next student to take the sauce subsequently ingested it and experienced adverse effects,” said Deputy Chief George Pfutzenreuter. “That student immediately reported their reaction to cafeteria staff.”
The staff removed the sauce from the food line while another cafeteria worker tasted the sauce.
“That employee had the same reaction as the student,” Pfutzenreuter said. “Other staff members experienced lesser, but similar effects while emptying and cleaning the food containers.”
Three cafeteria workers were sent to the school nurse with symptoms of coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and skin rashes, District 113 spokesperson Natalie Kaplan said.
“Just as a precautionary measure, they were taken to the hospital and released the same day,” she said.
Two students reported symptoms, but were not sent to the hospital.
Kaplan said the school identified the student responsible and took disciplinary action.
Pfutzenreuter said the battery charge, under state law, applies when a person “knowingly without legal justification causes bodily harm to an individual or makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature.”
The “Da Bomb” sauce website promotes the high heat levels of its sauces with phrases like “annihilate the taste buds” and “leave your sanity behind.”
The hottest sauce is described as “nuclear” and “radioactive” and customers are warned to use only a drop.
“Do not consume it straight out of the bottle,” the website promotion says. “You will die.”
In response, the school has decided to put new security cameras in the cafeteria.
“We have been in discussion about the best placement for these security cameras,” Kaplan said.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)