North Carolina Active Shooter Reports Latest: False Alarm Caused by Exploding Water Heater That 'Sounded Like an AR-15'

Police are responding to reports of an active gunman at Topsail High School in Hampstead, North Carolina. Earlier reports of gunshots appear to have been sparked by a malfunctioning water heater on the roof of the school.

Update: 8:35 a.m. ET

Pender Schools has lifted its lockdown on other school campuses in the area. Topsail Elementary, Topsail Middle and Topsail High all remain on lockdown, it said.

"Pender County Schools is thankful everyone is safe and thanks local emergency services for its immediate response," the body added.

Update: 8:25 a.m. ET

Collins has now confirmed that malfunctioning equipment on the school's roof was the cause of the active shooter reports. “There’s no active shooter,” Collins told reporters. “It’s a malfunctioning water heater.”

He explained the series of malfunctions “sounded just like an AR-15 going off.”

Update: 8:14 a.m. ET

WRAL spoke to Pender County's Emergency Management Director Tom Collins who said there are no casualties. Collins said police are inside the building and investigating reports that the incident involved "malfunctioning equipment on the roof of the gymnasium."

Update: 8:04 a.m. ET

Multiple law enforcement agencies are on the scene, according to the Port City Daily. This includes New Hanover County Sheriff’s deputies, Wilmington Police Department officers, UNCW campus police and Pender County Sheriff’s deputies. The New Hanover County Sherriff’s Office said its deputies responded after hearing about the incident on the news.

Update: 7:50 a.m. ET

Pender Schools says it is "taking all precautions to ensure the safety of students and staff."

The body explained: "At this time, all campuses on the eastern side of the county are on lockdown. Buses are being staged at Lowe’s Foods across from Topsail Elementary. All staff at Topsail Elementary, Topsail Middle, and Topsail High please report to Lowe’s Foods."

Pender Schools has asked any parents planning to drive their children to school not to do so at this time.

Update: 7:48 a.m. ET

Erik Oritz, a reporter at NBC News, said there were "several people" on the roof of the school building.

Update: 7:45 a.m. ET

Gabrielle Williams, a reporter for WECT News, is at the scene. She said traffic is moving slowly past the school. 

Update: 7:35 a.m. ET

The parent of a child who attends Topsail High School has told WWAY that he received a call from the school district telling him that all schools on the eastern side of Pender county were on lockdown. 

Original story below:

Police in North Carolina have responded to reports of an active shooter at Topsail High School in the community of Hampstead, according to local news outlets.

The call was received at about 6:30 a.m. local time Friday. Police have said officers are on the scene, according to the WTVD-TV. Captain James Rowell of the Pender County Sheriff’s Office said the scene remained active. Rowell said there were currently no reports of injuries. Dispatchers told WCCB that officers were securing the perimeter.

The high school went into lockdown in May after a student brought a semi-automatic rifle onto the campus, claiming he did so to stop a rumored school shooting. Another student was arrested with three knives, the Wilmington Star-News reported. The school was established in 1975. 

Join the Discussion

Editor's Pick
Polish minister Jews Goebbels Holocaust

Poland Leader Compares Criticism of Ruling Party

“[Law and Justice] is fanning political divisions further by spewing conspiracy theories and using language that plays on people’s emotions and strengthens a sense of victimhood,” Zselyke Csaky, an expert on Central Europe at Freedom House, told Newsweek.