Lincoln University police arrested two men after they allegedly sprayed pepper spray into a room at a residence hall in mid-September.
Jerek Boclair, 18, of Gary, Indiana, and Justin Mitchell, 19, of Kansas City, Missouri, were both charged Monday with peace disturbance and fourth-degree assault after the incident, which police say targeted specific residents of the building.
According to court documents, Boclair and Mitchell allegedly sprayed the chemical into a room and the hallway on the eighth floor of Dawson Hall on the LU campus. As a result, several women on the floor experienced physical pain and trouble breathing.
Police say Boclair and Mitchell sprayed the floor “after having an argument with several females from that floor.” Residents had to evacuate at least three rooms, according to probable cause statements.
Cole County Prosecutor Locke Thompson said the charges were filed late because of a backlog of cases. LU police arrested both suspects shortly after the incident and recommended charges to the prosecutor in October.
Thompson replaced Mark Richardson as county prosecutor at the beginning of the year. He said Boclair and Mitchell’s cases were two of many that were unprocessed.
An LU spokeswoman said in an email that they do not comment on pending cases. She did not confirm or deny that Boclair and Mitchell are, or were, LU students.
Makayla Trawick is a student living in Dawson Hall and said she lived next to the targeted room. She said the attack was carried out because a man was getting back at a woman who had pepper-sprayed him.
Trawick said the man and woman “got into an altercation, and the girl had pepper-sprayed him first, and then he came back and pepper-sprayed her room.” She said after the man sprayed the room, it spread to the entire floor and everyone had to evacuate.
“I thought I was gonna suffocate,” Trawick told ABC 17 News. “I felt real bad, and I just wanted to get off the floor.”
Boclair and Mitchell were not in custody Wednesday, according to Cole County Sheriff John Wheeler. Wheeler said both were likely released because charges were not filed promptly after their arrest.