As elementary kids were playing during recess, a wave of tear gas blew in the wind.  Who would tear gas an elementary school?

A mother prepares her kids to head off to school

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Every school day in America, parents send their kids off to school.  Homework done and lunches packed, they trust their kids will be safe while at school.

Florence Elementary School

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On February 15th, 2017, it was a normal day at school.  Attendance was taken, homework was turned in and lunch was served.

Florence Elementary Playground

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But the day changed during lunch recess.  As the students were playing, a wave of tear gas entered the playground.  Students began to cough and complain of their eyes burning.

Florence Fire Dept. Responding

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The Florence Fire Department responded to the school playground.  Students and staff were then treated for exposure to tear gas.  But who tear gasses an elementary school?

Florence Complex, Florence Arizona

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Florence, Arizona is known for being home to several prisons, some state run and others privately owned.  Many of the school children have parents who work in the prison system.

Florence Prison Complext

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On the day the Florence Elementary playground was tear gassed, the Arizona Department of Corrections was having a training session.  And they were using…tear gas.

An Officer Holding a Gas Mask

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While the Arizona Department of Corrections officers protected themselves with gas masks during training, nobody thought about the windy conditions that day.

An Arizona Windy Day

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Southern Arizona is known for windy days.  Because there is a lot of undeveloped land, the wind can kick up easily and travel far.  But with only blocks between the prison and the school, the tear gas didn’t need to travel far.

A Bus from the Florence School District

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During the training, tear gas was deployed from a tower into the recreational yard.  The CS gas then traveled west to the school playground.


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In their planning for this training session, they made sure they had enough tear gas for the exercise.  Tasked with the responsibility to babysit criminals in prison, the ADOC failed to consider one thing.  The wind and the school just blocks away.  And now they are facing a lawsuit.  Fifteen children are seeking $100,000 each.

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