CRIME

GMU law professor pepper sprayed during lecture

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(WJLA) - Several charges are pending against a man who walked into a classroom on George Mason University's Arlington campus and pepper sprayed a law professor.

The school says that on Wednesday afternoon during a law and literature class in this fourth floor classroom, intruder entered. He jumped up on the desk, announced that he was making a citizen's arrest, and then pepper sprayed Professor Tyler Cowen in the face.

Cowen ran into the hall, and the intruder chased him until an off-duty officer who happened to be a student in class caught him at one of the building's exits and held him until police arrived.

ABC7 was the only station there as police took the suspect into custody.

Ironically, the school says Cowen was teaching a unit on vigilantes -- so some students may have initially thought that the situation was fake.

"It just seems bizarre, because I think of George Mason as a really safe campus," said student Kristie Colorado.

12 to 15 people, including the professor, were briefly treated by medics for breathing issues.

Students at George Mason's Arlington campus received an email about the attack hours after it happened.

"It's definitely very concerning that someone can just come into a building and assault a professor like this," said student Shannon Orcutt.

The school says the professor was not seriously hurt and refused to be taken to the hospital. Students were sent home for the day

"He's a pretty big name in the economics department," said Colorado.

Cowen is an economist and author and is one of the most well-known professors at George Mason.

It remains unclear as to why the suspect did this; the school says he is not a student at the school, and his name will be released after he appears before the magistrate and is officially charged.

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