news 1 week ago

The Latest: Damaged water heater blamed for shooting report

The Associated Press

HAMPSTEAD, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on the active shooter situation in southeast North Carolina (all times local):

11:15 a.m.

After a 911 caller's pre-dawn report of gunfire coming from the roof of a North Carolina high school, officials say responding law enforcement officers heard the same noises, but found no shooter, victims or evidence of a shooting.

Capt. James Rowell said at a news conference Friday that once officials learned that a damaged water heater had been making noises, maintenance workers were able to recreate a noise just like gunfire.

Superintendent Steven Hill says a group of cheerleaders who were training before school followed common sense over procedure and fled to a nearby middle school. He says the schools have already lost more than a month of school after Hurricane Florence and they'll try to get the second part of the school day in to get back to normalcy.

Sheriff Carson Smith Jr. stressed that everyone who treated the noises like gunfire "did exactly what they should have."

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10:20 a.m.

School officials in North Carolina are making preparations to get the school day started late after a report of an active shooter at a school turned out to be malfunctioning water heater.

Pender County schools spokeswoman Miranda Ferguson said in an email that Topsail Elementary and Middle are opening for staff and staff at Topsail High School will be informed soon about opening. She says bus routes for several schools will run on a three hour delay.

Ferguson said there was a report of an active shooter at Topsail High School on Friday morning after noises were heard coming from the top of the building. The report provoked a massive response by law enforcement and caused the school district to reroute buses and put schools on lockdown.

Capt. James Rowell of the Pender County Sheriff's Office was quoted as saying in local reports that deputies swept the school but found no evidence that any shots had been fired. He says deputies did find an HVAC unit that was malfunctioning and making sounds similar to gunshots.

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8:25 a.m.

A county official says reports of an active shooter at a school in North Carolina turned out to be malfunctioning water heater.

News reports quote Pender County emergency management director Tom Collins as saying that noise from the water heater was taken for the sound of gunfire at Topsail High School on Friday morning. The earlier report of shots fired provoked a massive response by law enforcement and caused the school district to reroute buses and put schools on lockdown.

Capt. James Rowell of the Pender County Sheriff's Office was quoted as saying in local reports that deputies swept the school but found no evidence that any shots had been fired.

He said deputies did find an HVAC unit that was malfunctioning and making sounds similar to gunshots.

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8 a.m.

Schools in eastern Pender County, North Carolina are on lockdown after reports of an "active shooter situation" was reported at Topsail High School.

Pender County schools said via Twitter early Friday that all campuses on the eastern side of the county are on lockdown. School buses for Topsail Elementary, Topsail Middle, and Topsail High were being directed to Lowe's Foods across from the elementary school, where parents could pick up their children. Staff members of those schools were asked to report to the same place.

The school district also said that buses for South Topsail, North Topsail and Surf City Schools were being routed to their respective school campuses, where students were to remain on lockdown on buses.

The school district said that parents who planned to drive their children to school should not do so.

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7:30 a.m.

Authorities in North Carolina have responded to reports of an active shooter at a high school.

Capt. James Rowell with the Pender County Sheriff's Office tells WECT-TV that the scene at Topsail High School remains active, and there were no immediate reports of injuries Friday.

Reports of an active shooter came in around 6:30 a.m. According to its website, school begins at 8:30 a.m.

Topsail High School is located near the coast in Hampstead, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Wilmington. It has around 1,300 students enrolled.

In May, an 18-year-old student was found in the school's parking lot with a large knife strapped to his leg and three other knives. A 16-year-old boy who authorities say armed himself with a semi-automatic rifle after hearing about that potential attack also was arrested.

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Information from: WECT-TV, http://www.wect.com/

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