Both Fairview Heights Elementary and Hamlet Middle School were put on lockdown Friday afternoon after the sounds of gunshots were reportedly heard near the school, according to a statement released by Richmond County Schools.
A police investigation revealed there was no threat to students’ safety.
Fairview Heights Elementary is at 104 Hamilton Ave., and Hamlet Middle School is located at 1406 McDonald Ave. Both schools are in Hamlet, just down the road from each other.
According to Associate Superintendent Robert Beck, early Friday afternoon two teachers on the playground at Fairview Heights Elementary School reported hearing what they believed to be gunshots in the area between the two schools.
Hamlet Police Chief Amery Griffin said that two teachers heard shots, from what sounded like a shotgun, at the backside of Fairview Heights.
Students at Fairview Heights were quickly taken inside and Principal Julian Carter placed the school under lockdown while officers with the Hamlet Police Department searched the surrounding area for the source of the noise.
Hamlet Middle School was also notified and placed under lockdown at the same time, school officials said.
Griffin said there was nobody in the area, nobody walking outside, nobody on the lawns of nearby houses and no unusual vehicles in the area.
“There was nothing unusual,” he said.
Police searched the area and found no signs of danger, Beck said. Once the area was determined to be clear, officers alerted school officials and both Fairview Heights and Hamlet Middle returned to normal schedules.
Griffin said that officers walked through Fairview Heights with administrators, as a precautionary measure, when the school went through its lockdown procedures.
Parents of both Hamlet Middle and Fairview Heights students received an automated phone call notifying them of the incident. According to Mallory Brown, director of public relations for Richmond County Schools, the system is called the AlertNow System and it calls every person that is on a call list to notify them of incidents that have happened during school.
No students were allowed to return to the playground on Friday, school officials said.
— Staff Writer Laura Edington can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.