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No shots fired; it was malfunctioning water heater

HAMPSTEAD, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on the active shooter situation in southeast North Carolina (all times local):

8:25 a.m.

A county official says reports of an active shooter at a school in North Carolina turned out to be malfunctioning water heater.

News reports quote Pender County emergency management director Tom Collins as saying that noise from the water heater was taken for the sound of gunfire at Topsail High School on Friday morning. The earlier report of shots fired provoked a massive response by law enforcement and caused the school district to reroute buses and put schools on lockdown.

Capt. James Rowell of the Pender County Sheriff’s Office was quoted as saying in local reports that deputies swept the school but found no evidence that any shots had been fired.

He said deputies did find an HVAC unit that was malfunctioning and making sounds similar to gunshots.

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8 a.m.

Schools in eastern Pender County, North Carolina are on lockdown after reports of an “active shooter situation” was reported at Topsail High School.

Pender County schools said via Twitter early Friday that all campuses on the eastern side of the county are 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.

The school district also said that buses for South Topsail, North Topsail and Surf City Schools were being routed to their respective school campuses, where students were to remain on lockdown on buses.

The school district said that parents who planned to drive their children to school should not do so.

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7:30 a.m.

Authorities in North Carolina have responded to reports of an active shooter at a high school.

Capt. James Rowell with the Pender County Sheriff’s Office tells WECT-TV that the scene at Topsail High School remains active, and there were no immediate reports of injuries Friday.

Reports of an active shooter came in around 6:30 a.m. According to its website, school begins at 8:30 a.m.

Topsail High School is located near the coast in Hampstead, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Wilmington. It has around 1,300 students enrolled.

In May, an 18-year-old student was found in the school’s parking lot with a large knife strapped to his leg and three other knives. A 16-year-old boy who authorities say armed himself with a semi-automatic rifle after hearing about that potential attack also was arrested.

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