Faulty water heater at Pender high school prompts panic amid fear of active shooter
Posted November 9, 2018 7:04 a.m. EST
Updated November 9, 2018 3:21 p.m. EST
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.
Nearly 200 law enforcement officers and first responders rushed to 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.
Sheriff Carson Smith said members of the cheerleading squad called in the active shooter report.
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 were no reports of injuries during the incident.
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.
Kelsey Jones, a student at the school, witnessed the police response to the incident.
“There was a bunch of police cars going around," she said. "I was hoping nothing bad happened to the school or anything."
Kelsey was on the way to school with her grandmother when the mayhem unfolded.
“This way we see that everybody comes in to help and that was a relief," said Wanda Oopes, who was grateful that police were quick to respond.
Sheriff Smith, who says he prayed as he rushed to the scene, now joins an entire community relieved that this was just a drill.
“The sound that I heard when I arrived. I can fault no one that it was not gunfire," he said. "It sounded like gunfire.”
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" but in 2015 the Congressional Research Service produced a report that limited "mass shooting" to those that in which four or more people were killed. That is the measure used for this chart.
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."
|Date||Site||City||Killed||Weapon(s) used||Additional gear|
|05/31/2019||Municipal building||Virginia Beach, VA||13||Two .45-caliber handguns with "several" extended clips|
|04/28/2019||Apartment||West Chester, OH||4||Unknown|
|02/15/2019||Workplace||Aurora, IL||5||.40-caliber handgun|
|02/11/2019||Private home||Livingston, TX||5||Unknown|
|01/23/2019||Bank||Sebring, FL||5||9mm handgun|
|11/07/2018||Borderline Bar & Grill||Thousand Oaks, CA||13||Glock 21 .45 caliber with extended clip|
|10/27/2018||Tree of Life Synagogue||Pittsburgh, PA||11||AR-15, three handguns|
|10/15/2018||Private house (murder-suicide)||Columbia, TN||5||Unknown|
|10/13/2018||Birthday party at private home||Taft, TX||4||Unknown|
|10/10/2018||Private home||Rochester, NY||4||Unknown|
|09/21/2018||Private house||Henderson, NV||4||Unknown|
|09/20/2018||Drugstore distribution center (employee)||Aberdeen, MD||4||Unknown|
|09/16/2018||Private house (murder-suicide)||Silver Spring, MD||4||Unknown|
|09/12/2018||Business office, then private home||Bakersfield, CA||6||Unknown|
|09/06/2018||Office building||Cincinnati, OH||4||Unknown|
|08/11/2018||Private house (murder-suicide)||Clearlake, CA||4||Unknown|
|07/30/2018||Apartment building||Queens, NY||4||Unknown|
|07/27/2018||Home, nursing home (murder-suicide)||Robstown, TX||5||Unknown|
|07/09/2018||Private house (murder-suicide)||Prices Corner, DE||5||Unknown|
|07/01/2018||Private house||Ardmore, AL||4||Unknown|
|6/29/2018||The Capital Gazette||Annapolis, MD||5||Shotgun||Smoke grenades, possible explosive|
|5/18/2018||Santa Fe High School||Santa Fe, TX||10||Shotgun, .38-caliber revolver||Explosives, Molotov cocktail|
|2/14/2018||Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School||Parkland, FL||17||Semi-automatic rifle||NA|
|11/5/2017||First Baptist Church||Sutherland Springs, TX||27||Unknown||NA|
|10/1/2017||Music festival||Las Vegas, NV||58||10 AR-15s||100-round magazines|
|6/12/2016||Pulse Nightclub||Orlando, FL||50||Semi-automatic rifle, 9mm Glock||NA|
|12/12/2015||Inland Regional Center (county office)||San Bernardino, CA||14||2 AR-15s||2 semi-automatic pistols|
|10/1/2015||Umpqua Community College||Roseburg, OR||9||S&W M99 (.40) and M642-2 (.38); Taurus PT24/7 (.40); Hi-Point CF 380 (.380); Glock 19 (9mm)||NA|
|6/17/2015||Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church||Charleston, SC||9||Glock 41 (.45)||NA|
|9/16/2013||Washington Navy Yard||Washington, DC||13||Remington 870 Express Tactical 12-gauge shotgun||NA|
|6/7/2013||Multiple sites, including Santa Monica College||Santa Monica, CA||6||.44 revolver||NA|
|12/14/2012||Sandy Hook Elementary School||Newtown, CN||26||Semiautomatic rifle; Sig Sauer semi-auto pistol; Glock semi-auto pistol||NA|
|8/5/2012||Sikh Temple of Wisconsin||Oak Creek, WI||7||Springfield XD(M) semi-auto pistol||NA|
|7/20/2012||Century 16 Movie Theater||Aurora, CO||12||Smith and Wesson M&P15; 12-gauge shotgun; Glock 22||100-round magazine|
|10/12/2011||Salon Meritage||Seal Beach, CA||8||Springfield pistol (9mm); Heckler &Koch (.45); S&W Model 29 (.44 Magnum)||NA|
|8/3/2010||Hartford Distributors||Manchester, CN||9||Ruger SR9 semi-auto pistols (2)||NA|
|1/19/2010||Private house||Appomattox, VA||8||Unidentified high-power rifle||NA|
|11/5/2009||Fort Hood||Fort Hood, TX||13||FN Five-seven pistol; Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolver||NA|
|4/3/2009||American Civic Association Immigration Center||Binghamton, NY||14||9mm Beretta 92FS Vertec Inox; Beretta Px4 Storm .45 caliber (2)||NA|
|3/29/2009||Pinelake Health and Rehab||Carthage, NC||8||Winchester 12-gauge shotgun; .357 Magnum revolver; .22 Magnum semi-auto pistol||NA|
|3/10/2009||Geneva County, multiple locations||Kinston, AL||11||Bushmaster AR-15; 12-gauge shotgun, .38-cal handgun; Soviet-made SKS semi-auto rifle||NA|
|12/5/2007||Westroads Mall||Omaha NE||9||AKM 7.62x39mm semi-auto rifle (AK-47)||NA|
|10/7/2007||Crandon High School||Crandon, WI||6||AR-15||NA|
|4/16/2007||Virginia Tech campus||Blacksburg, VA||32||9mm Glock; Walther P-22 pistol||NA|
|3/21/2005||Red Lake High School||Red Lake, MN||9||Glock 23 (.40); Ruger MKII (.22); 12-guage shotgun||NA|
|4/20/1999||Columbine High School||Jefferson County, CO||15||Intratec TEC-DC9||Explosives, knives|
|8/20/1986||Edmond Post Office||Edmund, OK||15||3 semiautomatic pistols||NA|
|Mass shooting tracker:||https://www.massshootingtracker.org/data|
|Congressional Research Service report defining "mass shooting" as four or more dead:||https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R44126.pdf|