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Woman Collapses After Chemical Spray Attack in Restroom

By A. Arif Husain
Associate News Editor

Several people were overcome by fumes and one woman collapsed after an attacker released a chemical irritant spray in a Building 4 restroom (4-352) on May 18, according to Campus Police Sergeant Cheryl D. Vossmer. Building 4 and two adjacent buildings were evacuated because of the fumes.

The incident, which took place at around 10:30 a.m., was reported when a number of people nearby smelled the fumes and mistakenly suspected a chemical spill, according to a letter issued by Mary M. Tobin, Physical Plant operations center supervisor.

According to Campus Police Chief Anne P. Glavin, man entered the women's restroom and sprayed "a cayenne pepper spray" at a woman over a stall door. The spray is believed to have been of the type used commonly for self-defense. The suspect immediately fled, she said.

The victim, whose name has not been released, was an undergraduate, Vossmer said. She was taken to the Medical Center, where she was treated and released. Other women who had been in the restroom during the attack were also given medical attention for exposure to the spray's fumes.

The Campus Police, Physical Plant, and the Cambridge Police and Fire Departments responded. Buildings 4, 10, and 3 were evacuated while the situation was investigated. Evacuees were allowed to return the buildings within a short time, Glavin said.

The suspect is believed to be a white male 25 to 30 years old with a square chin and heavy build. He was reported to have been wearing heavy dark framed glasses and had stringy hair pulled forward, Vossmer said.

While the Campus Police has gathered photos of possible suspects, the victim was unable to make a positive identification, Glavin said. The case will be difficult to pursue without further leads, she said.