BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Several Buffalo Police vehicles swarmed McKinley High School on Elmwood Avenue after fights broke out Tuesday afternoon.

Buffalo Police officers were first spotted outside the school around 3:45 p.m.

A BPD spokesperson said no one was injured and a 16-year-old male student is in custody after “a number of fights involving students” broke out during dismissal. The student was charged with obstruction and resisting arrest.

Sources close to Buffalo Public Schools told News 4’s Tara Lynch chaos erupted after separate smaller fights became a large fight outside the school. They said students were fighting each other, hitting police officers and battling school administrators.

“For me, it was like a movie. It looked like something from a police break, like a prison break and the police was there and they were holding people out of the way,” Tabitha Parker, a member of MAD DADS, said.

Parker was on the scene when the fights broke out. She says Peacemakers are usually at the school to help with dismissal, but Tuesday it got “out of control”. Parker says Buffalo Police used pepper spray to try and gain control of the situation.

“I was one of the Peacemakers that was maced [pepper sprayed]. There were three of us maced [pepper sprayed]. The principal was maced [pepper sprayed]. The children were maced [pepper sprayed]. It started in front of the school and then the macing [pepper spraying] went down the street,” Parker added.

Buffalo Police originally responded to McKinley High School. Other units were sent to the Sunoco Gas station and Steffie’s Food Mart near Amherst Street.

Parent leaders say McKinley High School is one of the largest schools in the district and has the most security on-site during the school day, which is in part due to an incident from last school year where a student was stabbed and a security officer was shot outside of the school. They say students are still feeling unsafe.

“There’s no shortage of issues that could be going on with these children, but we need to get to them,” Aymanuel Radford, co-chair of We the Parents of Western New York, added. “With the advent of social media, children are talking to each other 24/7. Fights spill out from school and they happen outside of school. They [fights] come to the school, so we really have to start addressing these students as human being and ask them ‘What’s going on?'”

Parents are hoping for solutions moving forward, which Radford says starts with the students.

“We’re not really addressing the problems. We’re just throwing money at it and hoping the problem gets solved. We all have a part in addressing the problem. All of us, community, students, parents, the administrators, the Superintendent, the principal, the school board. All of us share a little bit of blame in this,” Radford added.

“Student violence compromises safety and will not be allowed, on the way to, or leaving from any Buffalo Public School (BPS). Schools must be safe zones. Unfortunately, during dismissal from McKinley High School, several students took it upon themselves and without permission, bypassed their special NFTA buses. Those students then traveled to the Elmwood and Amherst Street intersection where they created an unsafe environment by participating in multiple fights.  School leadership will prioritize identifying every student who was directly involved and disciplinary measures, per the Student’s Code of Conduct, will be issued,” Buffalo Public Schools said in a statement.

“The District is requesting that parents and caregivers of McKinley High School students speak with their children to inform them that, effective immediately, any student that is approved for busing is expected to board their assigned special NFTA bus, in front of the school, immediately at dismissal. Those individuals not following the specified guidelines may be subject to disciplinary consequences. This expectation was shared with the parent body at McKinley this evening via robocall and text and will be reviewed tomorrow with all students.”

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Patrick Ryan is an award-winning reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2020. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a reporter in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.