'Active shooter' panic at North Carolina high school was sparked by faulty air con that made 'gunshot-like noises'

Cops swooped on Topsail High School in Hampstead, North Carolina, earlier this morning after reports of an "active shooter".

Captain James Rowell of the Pender County Sheriff’s Office told Wect News 6 that it was an "active scene", and there were no reported injuries.

An emergency dispatcher with the Pender County Sheriff's Office told Time that multiple units were attending, and: "All of our units are trying to take this person into custody."

All schools on the eastern side of Pender County were put on lockdown as a result, and school buses redirected.

It has now been confirmed that there was no gunman, with a county official saying reports of an active shooter at the school turned out to be malfunctioning water heater.

Pender County emergency management director Tom Collins said that noise from the equipment was taken for the sound of gunfire at Topsail High.

Capt. James Rowell said that deputy sheriffs swept the school but found no evidence that any shots had been fired.

He said they did, however, find an HVAC unit – which provides air-conditioning, ventilation and heating – that was malfunctioning and making sounds similar to gunshots.

The official confirmation has, understandably, been welcomed on social media, with one woman tweeting: "Whew. Nearby relatives next to the school told me they heard like 12 gunshots. Glad it was the heater! Thanks to the first responders!"

Topsail PTA had earlier warned on Facebook: “All schools on the eastern side of Pender County are currently on lockdown.

“There has been an active shooter situation reported at Topsail High School. Please keep your students at home until further information is released."

Fox 46 said that a report of an active shooter has sparked a large police presence in the area, after cops were called at about 6.30am today.


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