COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Dozens of police officers rushed to a South Carolina elementary school Tuesday after 911 dispatchers heard gunshots and someone pulled an alarm reporting a shooting on campus. But it turns out the gunfire was actually blanks being fired as part of a historical re-enactment, deputies and officials at Delmae Heights Elementary School in Florence said.
“No one in that school told us they were doing any type of re-enactment,” Florence County Chief Deputy Glen Kirby said over his cell phone with an edge to his voice about an hour after the initial reports of gunfire.
The first 911 call came from someone at an apartment complex next to the school around 9 a.m. Tuesday. The dispatcher could hear what sounded like gunfire on the other end, Kirby said.
At about the same time, someone pulled an alarm to report a shooting inside the school in Florence, Kirby said.
“We got that alarm from inside the school and we sent everybody — deputies, Highway Patrol, Florence police,” Kirby said.
Dozens of officers raced to the school along with parents. No one was shot or hurt, Kirby said.
The school posted on Facebook that everyone was safe.
“They are conducting a re-enactment of a pioneer encampment on the campus and a neighboring citizen mistook the situation for an emergency incident. Law Enforcement responded accordingly in response to their established procedures,” read the posting, signed by Doug Nunnally, who is Director of Security & School Safety for Florence District 1 schools.
Kirby said the school didn’t tell authorities they would be firing blanks or anything that sounded like gunfire and they feared the worst.
Just over two months ago, seven police officers were shot and two killed by a gunman who fired dozens of rounds in an ambush in an upscale Florence County neighborhood, authorities said.