Monday, March 4, 2024

911: Shooting hoax caller claimed to be NHHS teacher, sheriff’s office turns over case to FBI

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — Audio from the fraudulent 911 call that triggered law enforcement presence and a lockdown at New Hanover High School last week has been released. 

The caller told the emergency management operator there was an active shooter at the school and several students were injured. The man, who claimed to be a teacher at NHHS, reported the shooter came into the classroom and fired rounds at multiple students. He said he was making the call while locked in the “staff room.”

READ MORE: NHHS shooter threat a hoax amid statewide fake 911 calls, parents react

“I was teaching an English class, when I was teaching there, he just came to the classroom and shot several students in front of me,” the caller stated. “When he tried to shoot me, he just missed me.” 

After confirming law enforcement was being dispatched to the scene, the 911 operator asked for a description of the suspect. The caller described the shooter as a white male wearing black pants and a black shirt. He said he was carrying a rifle, from which he fired around 40 rounds. 

Nearly three minutes into the call, the caller starts breaking up; around the 4:30 mark, the caller stops speaking. The line remains open for one hour in total.  The event report noted the “caller had an Indian accent” and the “phone service signal was not good.” 

The 911 report shows the call was made at 8:48 a.m. Within the next minute, officers already onsite reported, “We are outside and don’t hear anything.” 

The facility was put on lockdown — as well as nearby Williston Middle School, and the International School at Gregory, an elementary school — at 8:51 a.m. Law enforcement from both the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office and Wilmington Police Department swept the high school.

At 8:53 a.m., officers reported securing most of the school, with no signs of an active shooter; the primary search was completed at 9 a.m. 

At 10:37 a.m., secondary searches of the school were complete and the lockdowns were lifted. They found no active shooter and no gun; no injuries were reported. 

The report also details emergency personnel’s attempts to ping the caller’s phone. The attempts failed due to the number being operated by TextNow, a free text and call app.

The report was one of multiple fake calls on Dec. 1 reporting a shooting in several North Carolina counties, including Mecklenburg, Wake, Durham, Alamance and Forsyth. NHCSO’s Lt. Jerry Brewer confirmed calls also went to Cumberland County.

Monday, Brewer told Port City Daily the case is now being investigated by the FBI due to the same call being issued to other schools in multiple states along the East Coast. Eight Georgia counties confirmed receiving a fake call on Nov. 30. According to First Coast News, the caller stated, “I was teaching the biology class and he came to the classroom and shot seven students there, second floor room 1-9.” 

Law enforcement referred to the fake call as a “swatting attempt,” a harassment tactic where someone falsely reports a dangerous situation to trigger emergency intervention. 

According to the FBI, sending or posting hoax threats of targeted violence against schools and other public places is a federal crime punishable by up to five years in prison, among other state or local charges.

The first 10 minutes of the recording is below. Port City Daily edited the recording to remove the long period of silence.


Reach journalist Brenna Flanagan at brenna@localdailymedia.com 

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