Malfunctioning water heater leads to reports of active shooter at North Carolina school

Popping sounds 'sounded just like an AR-15 going off,' official says


HAMPSTEAD, N.C. – Reports of an active shooter at a school in North Carolina were unfounded, Pender County emergency management director Tom Collins told news outlets Friday.

Collins told Starnewsonline.com that popping noises heard at Topsail High School early Friday were from a "malfunctioning water heater."

He said the series of water heaters popping "sounded just like an AR-15 going off."

Capt. James Rowell with the Pender County Sheriff's Office confirmed there were no reports of injuries Friday.

Reports of an active shooter came in around 6:30 a.m.

All schools in eastern Pender County were placed 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.

Topsail High School is located near the coast in Hampstead, about 20 miles north of Wilmington.

According to local news outlets, this is the second time this year the high school has had reports of a gun-related incident. 

Two Topsail High School students were arrested in May after allegedly bringing weapons onto campus, including one student who went to school armed with a semi-automatic rifle. Authorities said he claimed to have brought the gun to school because he planned to stop a rumored school shooter.



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