Pepper Spray Released at Harvard MBTA Station

Red Line service was briefly suspended as fire and medical officials were dispatched to the scene in Cambridge. One person was sent to the hospital.

The Red Line

Red Line photo via Wikimedia Commons

Did you get stuck on the Red Line last night? If so, it wasn’t the usual signal problems/disabled train/mysterious MBTA malfunction causing delays. A substance believed to be pepper spray was released at the Harvard MBTA station on Sunday night, leading to one hospitalization and the suspension of Red Line trains for roughly 30 minutes.

At about 6 p.m., officials received reports of a smell in the station and burning eyes among passengers, Jack Albert, the deputy superintendent of the Cambridge Police Department, told the Boston Globe. Fire, hazardous-material, and medical personnel were then dispatched to the station, and several people were medically evaluated. No arrests have been made.

Emergency responders determined that pepper spray had been unleashed in the ramp between two train levels before ventilating the area. The Cambridge Fire Department said in a tweet that MBTA Police will investigate the incident.


In addition to stalled Red Line trains, MBTA also paused bus service to Harvard station and temporarily closed streets in Harvard Square, according to the Globe. At 6:30 p.m., the MBTA tweeted service resumed to Harvard “with moderate residual delays.”

In 2014, then-Gov. Deval Patrick eased pepper spray restrictions in Massachusetts, allowing residents to carry the substance without a Firearms Identification card. In the past, “self-defense spray [was] considered ammunition,” in the Bay State, according to the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries, and additional documentation was required to tote the gas. When pepper spray is released, it typically leads to difficulty breathing, eye irritation, and runny nose.