Hampstead, N.C. — Law enforcement authorities in Pender County were called to Topsail High School early Friday morning on a report of an active shooter on campus but authorities say now that noise from a malfunctioning water heater was mistaken for gunfire.
A heavy law enforcement presence descended on the school, which is located at 245 N. Saint Johns Church Road in Hampstead, when the reports of an active shooter first surfaced around 7 a.m.
A spokesman for the Pender County Sheriff’s Office said law enforcement officers were still searching the campus as a precaution but reports indicate that it was faulty equipment that prompted the erroneous reports about gunfire.
There have been no reports of injuries.
Students were diverted away from the campus and were transported to a nearby Lowe’s Foods grocery store while law enforcement officers investigated the report of an active shooter.
Pender County Emergency Director Tom Collins said he believed a malfunctioning water heater caused the gunfire noise.
WECT TV reported that a local commission said no active shooter has been identified.
The commissioner, identified as George Brown, said the noise that sounded like gunfire may have been a piece of equipment at the school that has been malfunctioning in recent days. The equipment sounds similar to gunfire when it is not working properly.
News of a possible active shooter at the school has undoubtedly alarmed many parents in light of the mass shooting late Wednesday night in Souther California at a country western bar that left 13 people dead, including the suspected gunman who apparently killed himself.
Several other schools in Pender County were placed on lockdown as a precaution.
There is no set definition for the term “mass shooting.” This chart includes shootings in which three or more people were killed. While most of the shootings listed here occurred since 2000, Columbine is included because of its notoriety; the 1986 shooting at the post office in Edmond, Okla., is included because it is the origin of the grim term “going postal.”
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