NEW HANOVER COUNTY –– A shooting took place Monday morning at New Hanover High School.
Heavy law enforcement presence was on site at the school, which went on lockdown, according to New Hanover County Schools.
“We are asking families and members of the community not to go to the building,” a spokesperson for NHCS shared in a brief media statement at 11:55 a.m. “Law enforcement is currently on the scene.”
Students were being evacuated to Williston Middle School, less than a mile away.
According to multiple students, gunshots were heard coming from the catwalk — which crosses Market near 13th Street.
New Hanover Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Jerry Brewer confirmed at least one student was shot and is being treated at the hospital. It is unknown if the shooter is also a student, Brewer said.
The shooter is not in custody and his whereabouts and identity are unconfirmed, according to Brewer, who also asserted the public is not in danger.
A student explained in a video obtained by Port City Daily that he was walking to his class when he saw a fight break out in the catwalk. “I walked up and was standing on the corner, and I heard three or four gunshots and I ran,” he said.
One parent’s account — who was texting his child during the incident — said his daughter and her friends were hiding out in the bathroom, until they were informed the school was evacuated.
Armed officers were moving from room to room as shown in a photograph Port City Daily received; it appeared students were in classrooms with their hands up as officers checked the rooms.
Lt. Brewer confirmed law enforcement officials were sweeping New Hanover High School to ensure all students were evacuated. Officials then had to conduct a headcount before parents could pick up students at the Martin Luther King Center at 401 S. 8th Street.
As of 1:50 p.m., kids were being released to parents.
Video shows fight
According to a 34-second video obtained by Port City Daily, a fight broke out between two students on the catwalk. The video pans to the opposite end of the catwalk where another brawl started among other students. Dozens of young witnesses stood in the midst of it all to observe the chaotic scene.
One of the minors dragged another by his white T-shirt across the catwalk. Students started yelling, “No, no, stop, stop it,” before three gunshots can be heard and the video cuts off.
A Wilmington Police Department spokesperson on the scene said the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office is overseeing the incident.
[Ed. note: Port City Daily has chosen not to upload the video out of respect for the minors involved and affected by the shooting.]
Other schools shelter in place
Within a few miles of New Hanover High, “Williston Middle School and Gregory Elementary are safely under a shelter in place,” a New Hanover County Schools spokesperson shared in a 12:48 p.m. update. “Students from these two schools are not being released to families at this time. Please wait for further instructions before going to one of those locations to pick up your student.”
According to Lt. Brewer, Laney High School — located at 2700 N. College Rd., 7.5 miles from New Hanover High — and Trask Middle School, which shares a campus with Laney, is under shelter-in-place orders as well. The sheriff’s spokesperson could not confirm why.
A shelter in place is different from a lockdown — meaning students can’t leave the school premises but can move in between classes.
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