A senior prank that started with water balloons escalated to a fist fight and ended with the arrests of three students at Gulf Coast High School on Monday.
The Collier County Sheriff’s Office was called to the school at 7878 Shark Way around lunchtime after receiving a report of a disturbance. The disturbance was sparked by a water balloon fight in the school courtyard that was part of a senior prank. But the prank quickly went awry after some school administrators reported getting hit by water balloons, deputies said.
A CCSO Youth Relations deputy responded to the courtyard, where two male students were engaged in a fist fight that was triggered after one of them was hit by a water balloon. An estimated 400 to 500 students were also in the courtyard, which is near the cafeteria.
The deputy, along with a school administrator, ordered the large crowd to disperse as he made his way toward the fight, but many ignored his lawful commands. The deputy ordered the two students to stop fighting, but they also ignored his lawful commands and continued to fight. The deputy approached the larger of the pair and made two attempts to subdue him, but each time the student broke free from the deputy’s grasp.
The deputy then deployed one burst of his capsicum in the direction of the student at the center of the violence. However, some students in the immediate area also felt the effects because of their proximity, an unfortunate consequence that resulted from their not obeying the deputy’s lawful commands to disperse. EMS treated at least nine students on scene and their parents were notified.
This was student-on-student violence that the deputy was trying to resolve. Realizing there were several hundred students in the immediate area, and the situation had the potential to escalate rapidly, the deputy called for CCSO backup. The student was placed on the ground while the deputy waited for assistance.
CCSO road patrol deputies arrived to assist the Youth Relations deputy and gave the large crowd orders to back up. Two students refused and attempted to block the deputies from entering the courtyard. Deputies arrested one of the students and charged him with obstruction of justice. The other student received a civil citation for community service in lieu of arrest.
The student at the center of the violence was arrested and charged with affray and resisting arrest without violence. The other student involved in the fight was charged with affray.
The three arrested students, whose names are not being released because they are minors, are facing misdemeanor charges. They were taken into the custody of the state Department of Juvenile Justice.