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Pinellas special needs students pepper sprayed

Posted at 4:30 PM, Mar 04, 2016

At least two students, one considered special needs, were pepper sprayed following Pinellas County school resource officers are calling a brawl.

It happened around noon Thursday at Richard L. Sanders School in Pinellas Park.

Eric Caraballo and Morel Miller, both 18, were arrested and are now facing disorderly conduct charges.

Caraballo told ABC Action News using pepper spray was too much and he jumped into a fight to protect a female student who was being beat up by a male student.

"It burned like acid on my face," explained Caraballo.  "I could taste it.  I could smell it."

Caraballo says he was pepper sprayed twice.

According to Caraballo, school leaders were intending to name him Student of the Month Thursday.

He ended up handcuffed and was hauled off to jail instead.

"He was beating on her and I don't think that is right, so I did the same thing.  I beated on him," Caraballo explained.

There are four surveillance cameras in the cafeteria, Caraballo said.  His mother has requested to see all the videos from the district.

Caraballo claims his friend, Miller, also jumped into the fight to protect the female student.

"It's wrong, but I wasn't thinking straight.  I can understand that.  I was upset.  She was a good friend of mine," Caraballo explained.

Both Caraballo and Miller are charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct.

Caraballo bonded out but Miller remains behind bars.

School district officials confirmed the incident, but could not comment specifically on any student citing privacy issues.

ABC Action News also requested copies of any surveillance video from the lunchroom.  District leaders declined to release the video citing student privacy issues.