PENDER COUNTY, NC (WITN) – A county official says that a malfunctioning water heater at Topsail High School may be to blame for an active shooter call.
News outlets report that Pender County Emergency Management Director Tom Collins said 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 told local news outlets 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.
As of 7 a.m., Capt. Rowell told WECT-TV in Wilmington that there were no reported injuries.
As of 8 a.m., the scene is still active and students are still on lockdown.
The sheriff’s office is expected to hold a press conference sometime Friday morning.
Law enforcement is responding to reports of an active shooter at Topsail High School.
Our sister station WECT reports the Pender County Sheriff’s Office received a call regarding an active shooter around 6:30 a.m. Friday.
Pender County schools posted on Twitter that all campuses on the eastern side of the county are on lockdown.
School buses for Topsail Elementary, Topsail Middle and Topsail High are 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.
Capt. James Rowell told WECT there are no reported injuries as of 7 a.m.
Commissioner George Brown told WECT that there is a piece of equipment at the school that has been malfunctioning recently and sounds like gunfire when it makes noise. He says this is being investigated as a source.
Live footage shows numerous law enforcement agencies currently at the school where the scene remains active.
According to the school website, school begins at 8:30 a.m.
There’s no word on whether a suspect has been identified or if anyone is in custody.
We are working to get more information and have a crew on the way to the scene.