GMU professor attacked with pepper spray during a lecture

A George Mason University professor was attacked with pepper spray during a lecture Wednesday afternoon at the Arlington campus.

The alleged assailant, who police named as 31-year-old Alexandria resident Jonathan Eric Pendleton, was not a student, authorities said. He walked off the street, demanded to make a “citizens arrest” of the professor, and attacked the man with pepper spray, police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said.

A student tried to intervene, and Pendleton hit the student with a stun gun, while the teacher fled the classroom, Sternbeck said. Pendleton caught up with the professor and tried to place him in handcuffs, at which point police intervened and took the subject into custody, police said.

The professor sustained only minor injuries and did not need medical attention, GMU spokesman Michael Sandler said. Several students were affected by the pepper spray as well and were examined by first responders, but none suffered significant injuries, he added. Sternbeck said there were about 10 students in the room at the time.

There is an increased police presence on campus Thursday in the wake of the incident.

“Our campus is safe and we’re making sure everyone feels safe,” Sandler said.

“Back to work! (as usual. . .)” the professor tweeted shortly after the incident.

Pendleton was arraigned in Arlington district court Thursday morning on charges of assault with a caustic substance and abduction.

Pendleton previously lived in Washington state, according to Sternbeck. A “Jonathan E Pendleton” of Seattle commented on the professor’s blog earlier this month, warning that if the police and FBI would not arrest the professor he would “do it myself.”

“Either way, one of us is going to prison,” he added.

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Rachel Weiner covers cops and courts in Arlington and Alexandria.
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