Water Heater Faulted For Active Shooter Scare

Nov 9, 2018

Updated 9:50 a.m.

Police responded to reports of an active shooter at Topsail High School Friday morning, but according to county emergency management director Tom Collins, the culprit was a malfunctioning water heater.

According to ABC 11, authorities were called at 6:30 a.m. The Pender County Sheriff's Office told WFAE the scene was still active and there were no injuries or fatalities.

County Commissioner and Topsail High football coach George Brown said that he doubts there was a shooter on campus, instead blaming a malfunctioning water heater for causing a gunshot-like noise, reported WECT. The piece of equipment could have been impacted by Hurricane Florence.

"There's no active shooter," Collins said. "It's a malfunctioning water heater."

The water heater, located on the roof, Collins added, sounds "just like" an AR-15.

Topsail Elementary and Middle schools have lifted their lockdowns and opened for staff at 9:30 a.m. Buses for both, as well as Topsail High and South Topsail schools, will be running on a 3-hour delay. Lunch will be served.

Information regarding the reopening of Topsail High is still forthcoming.

The school, located about 20 miles north of Wilmington in Hampstead, North Carolina, has a student body of 1,400.

In May, the school went on "code red" for three hours when the Sheriff's Office received a tip regarding an armed student. Upon arrival, an 18-year-old student was found with four knives and another, 16, was found with a .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle in his car, according to Seacoast Online. There were no injuries and both students were charged.

This is a developing story.