Two students have been criminally charged after allegedly bringing “fart spray” to their Texas high school this month, a prank that led to evacuations, hospitalizations and canceled classes.
Diego Flores, 18, and a boy, 17, were both charged with possession of a prohibited weapon, a third-degree felony, after authorities said they “intentionally or knowingly” possessed “a chemical dispensing device,” according to court records. (The 17-year-old is not being identified because NBC News does not usually name minors charged with a crime.)
A strange odor at Caney Creek High School on May 3 and 4 prompted extensive testing of the campus' mechanical, ventilation and sewer systems. Multiple fire departments responded to the school, including Caney Creek Fire & Rescue, and determined that its air quality was safe and there was no odor in the building when it wasn't occupied by students, the school's principal, Jeff Stichler, said in a statement May 5.
Students were temporarily evacuated May 3 after "a gas smell near the cafeteria" was discovered and dismissed at 1 p.m., Stichler said in a message to parents. There was no odor when students returned to campus the next day, but the smell returned at around 11:30 a.m., prompting another evacuation and early dismissal, according to another message from the principal.
Some students had "strong negative physical reactions to the odor," including headaches and nausea, and were taken to hospitals by ambulance, according to court documents.
"We have been told by multiple resources using advanced equipment that the presence of natural gas has not been detected on our campus — not yesterday and not today," Stichler told parents May 4.
The school was closed May 5 to allow authorities to continue their probe into the source of odor.
Following an investigation by police and the campus administration, the school said it believes students brought "Hensgaukt Fart Spray" in the building as part of a prank, causing the odor.
Flores and the 17-year-old boy were booked into the Montgomery County Jail on May 12 and released on $3,000 bond the same day.
Attorney Wendy Baker, who represents Flores, said her client was "over charged."
"I am completely offended that this young man has been charged with a third degree felony and if the State of Texas doesn’t come to their senses soon then we look forward to defending this case in a jury trial of Montgomery County citizens," Baker said in an email.
The Conroe Independent School District deferred all comments on the incident to the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office.
In a statement, the district attorney's office said there are several details it can't share at this time due to pending litigation, but that the incident wasn't just a harmless school prank.
"However, we can affirm that even the initial evidence outlined in the charges indicates that this incident goes beyond the scope of a benign school prank," the statement said. "While being mindful of these details, we also fully understand and acknowledge the youth of the individuals involved in this case. The potential for impulsive decisions, especially among younger individuals, is a factor we consider during our pursuit of justice."
The district attorney's office says it is dedicated to a resolution considerate of the community, the victims and the futures of the suspects.
"We encourage those with concerns to exercise patience and allow the process to work to achieve those ends," the district attorney's office said.