Over a Dozen People Treated for Chemical Exposure After Pepper Spray Attack at Conservative Event in Utah

By Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'
April 9, 2019 Updated: April 9, 2019

Over a dozen students and staff members received medical attention—and one was even reportedly hospitalized—after someone diffused pepper spray at an event hosted by a conservative group.

Nearly 20 students and staff members were treated for pepper spray exposure after a student protester diffused the chemical at a Turning Point USA event at Park City High School in Park City, Utah, on April 1, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

One student was reportedly hospitalized after coming into contact with the chemical.

Several victims were suffering from abdominal cramping, others complained of having difficulty breathing.

The attacker reportedly released a sufficiently large quantity of the chemical into the room that students in an adjacent classroom also felt ill.

Fire officials cited by the Tribune said a student admitted to releasing the pepper spray inside the school.

Police are investigating the incident.

‘Respiratory Issues’

Tricia Hazelrigg, a spokeswoman for the Park City Fire District, was cited by the Tribune as saying that a gas leak was reported on Monday about 10 minutes after classes were dismissed at the school.

Hazelrigg told the publication that emergency crews responding to the incident tested for carbon monoxide and explosives. No traces of either were found, she said.

“The pepper spray was sprayed in the lecture hall 15 minutes after school was dismissed,” Park City School District communications director Melinda Colton told Breitbart News.

Colton said that traces of the pepper spray were found several hours after the incident by a crew testing for hazardous chemicals.

Park City Police captain Phil Kirk told the Tribune medical crews treated several people for “respiratory issues.”

Kirk said one victim was taken to an area hospital, but provided no further information about the person’s condition.

Classes at the school resumed the following day.

‘Bridge the Divide’

The pepper spray was released in a lecture hall where the school’s Turning Point USA (TPUSA) student group had planned to host an event.

The event was a talk titled “How to Bridge the Divide with Will Witt from PragerU.”

Witt, a self-described conservative, “creates online content for PragerU and helps inspire young people worldwide to fight for the values they believe in,” according to his PragerU bio.

“Before working for PragerU, he worked with other nonprofits to help spread the values of freedom and conservatism across America.”

The TPUSA event with Witt was able to proceed at an alternate venue.

Park City High School’s TPUSA chapter president Max Mobley told Breitbart News that he believes this was a politically-motivated attack.

“We know that if we [conservatives] were suspected of doing something like this, we would especially be under fire for our actions,” Mobley said.

The suspect has not been identified, but several students were cited by Breitbart as saying that the alleged perpetrator was a known “socialist” on campus.

“We’re still investigating the incident, so no motive yet,” Kirk told Breitbart.

“It’s unbelievable that students, even in high school, have been brainwashed by the left to the point they would do such a thing, putting people’s lives in danger,” Witt told Breitbart News. “It also goes to show how far the left will go to shut down opinions they don’t agree with.”

Conservative Activist Assaulted

Conservative activist Hayden Williams was punched in the face and shoved by a suspect on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley on Feb. 19, according to video footage filmed at the scene.

Williams was attacked while recruiting for Turning Point USA, according to group President Charlie Kirk.

“While recruiting for our group at UC Berkeley a leftist thug comes & assaults our activists punching him in the face & hitting him repeatedly. Imagine if the attacker was wearing MAGA hat, would be national news!” Kirk wrote on Twitter. “This is the violent left!”

In the video footage, a young man dressed in black pants and T-shirt is seen shoving, dragging, and punching Williams. He then calls him a “racist” in an expletive-laden rant before throwing a vicious punch in the victim’s face.
The video had been viewed more than a million times since it was posted on Feb. 21.

Suspect Arrested

Campus police on March 1 arrested a man suspected of attacking Williams, according to reports.

Zachary Greenberg. (Alameda County Sheriff’s Office)

Zachary Greenberg, 28, was booked into jail and was being held on a $30,000 bail, according to local media.

Following Greenberg’s arrest, TPUSA founder and president Charlie Kirk issued a statement.

“Today, we have finally learned the identity of the attacker and that the violent man has been arrested,” Kirk’s statement read. “While every American should be afforded their due process, we believe that the video evidence, in this case, is incontrovertible.”

“We hope 28-year-old Zachary Greenberg is prosecuted to the full extent of the law for assault with a deadly weapon, which should be considered an act of hate,” Kirk continued. “Hopefully, this dark chapter will act as a wake up call to those concerned about actual politically motivated hate crimes in America. Berkeley and all college campuses across American should be safe havens for free thought and opinions—especially for a targeted conservative minority.”

Epoch Times reporters Tiffany Meier and Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.

Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'