BEATRICE – Fans were rousted from the Beatrice Municipal Auditorium on Monday during the annual MUDECAS basketball tournament.  

But it wasn’t due to the quality of play.   It was pepper spray.

Beatrice Police officers were doing training outside the city auditorium near the old bay doors to the former fire department headquarters.  Some airborne spray being used apparently got into the auditorium through the ventilation system, and into the auditorium court area where fans were attending MUDECAS games.

Beatrice Police Chief John Hickman publicly apologized, saying the department is extremely sorry for the inconvenience caused for people attending the tournament.  Steps were taken to ventilate the area affected and Hickman says procedures are being established to prevent a reoccurrence in the future.

Hickman says the type of spray used in the training is less potent than typical pepper spray and he’s been through training several times next to buildings on prior occasions, where no problems occurred.

He described it as a perfect storm of circumstances, which allowed some of the spray to enter the interior of the auditorium.

There were no reported serious health problems from the incident.