Police responded to reports of an active shooter at a North Carolina high school — only to find noise from faulty machinery

A Google street view image of Topsail High School in North Carolina. Google Maps
  • Police responded to false reports of a shooting at a high school in Hampstead, North Carolina, at 6:30 a.m. Friday morning.
  • Emergency officials confirmed the noise that was mistaken for gunshots was actually caused by faulty machinery.
  • Crews reportedly searched the building as a precaution, but found no evidence of an active shooter.

Police responded to reports of a shooting at Topsail High School in Hampstead, North Carolina, early Friday morning after noise caused by faulty machinery sounded like gunshots.

Emergency crews searched the building as a precaution but found no evidence of an active shooter, local news outlet WECT reported, citing Capt. James Rowell of the Pender County Sheriff’s Office.

County Commissioner George Brown told INSIDER emergency authorities had confirmed the reports of gunfire were “a false alarm,” and the noise came from a broken machine at the school.

“When we first heard this, of course, you have to assume there’s a serious threat, all precautions were taken, but once they got into looking at it, there’s someone who came forward and knew the noise wasn’t [gunshots],” Brown said, citing Pender County Emergency Director Tom Collins. “It’s a steam hot water heater, or something of that nature, that was causing metal slam against another piece of metal.”

Despite the mix-up, Brown said school and county authorities were “very pleased” with officers’ quick response to the scene.

“Everyone did respond quickly and we received mutual aid and folks from other counties,” Brown said. “We’re sorry about all the trouble but happy it’s a false alarm.”

The call came in around 6:30 a.m. local time, the local ABC affiliate WTVD channel reported.

As of 7:41 a.m., there were no reports of injuries, WECT reported.

WECT showed footage of a school bus parked at Lowes Food supermarket across the street, adding that there were students in it.

Topsail high school shooting lowes food
A schoolbus parked at Lowes Food supermarket opposite Topsail High School after a reported shooting early Friday morning. WECT

A spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office confirmed to INSIDER earlier Friday that law-enforcement officers were at the school, but declined to specify whether there was an active shooter situation.

Topsail High School is part of a larger campus, which also has a middle and an elementary school. All those schools were in lockdown, WECT said.

The scare comes less than a month after a student died after being shot at a high school near Charlotte, North Carolina and another student was taken into custody.