RIVERSIDE (CBSLA) – Police used pepper spray to break up a fight at a Moreno Valley middle school Tuesday afternoon which forced a lockdown and sent several students to the hospital.

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department was called to Landmark Middle School at around 1 p.m. Tuesday, after a fight broke out during lunch between two female students, with about 50 more watching the event unfold.

Deputies ordered the large group of students to disperse, and when they didn’t comply, officers released a pepper ball.

About 23 students were exposed to the pepper spray, three of which were transported to a local hospital.

Emergency crews respond to calls of a fight at Landmark Middle School in Moreno Valley. (CBS2)

Marilyn Espinoza, the twin sister of one of the girls involved in the fight, says her sister was attacked from behind and “hit back, of course, in self defense.”

Espinoza’s sister was arrested and taken to juvenile hall. The other student allegedly involved in the fight was not.

A message from the Moreno Valley Unified School District stated, “We have experienced several challenges today on campus. After our lockdown earlier in the day, a large amount of students were involved in an altercation at lunch. Police responded and placed our school on another temporary lockdown. Police dispersed the crowd of students and the lockdown was lifted.”

The fight caused the second lockdown at the school on Tuesday. The first lockdown happened after the school received a call that violence was happening on campus.

A spokesperson for the school district said parents need to speak to their children about violence on campus and that “they need do need to be respecting school staff, they need to be respecting especially a police officer.”

Officials are not aware of what started the altercation, but they don’t believe any weapons were involved.

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