North Surry High School was placed on lockdown Tuesday morning after several students there heard a series of gunshots and reported seeing a man with a firearm on nearby property, according to school and county officials.
However, it appears the gunman was simply shooting wildlife on his property, according to a Surry County official.
“The hunter was shooting geese on his pond,” said John Shelton, Surry County Emergency Services coordinator.
Sonia Dickerson, spokesperson for Surry County Schools, said a physical education class was outside at the time and heard the shots.
“They immediately reported it to the SRO (school resource officer) and the principal,” Dickerson said.
They responded by putting the school on lockdown and calling the Surry County Sheriff’s Office. Dickerson said law enforcement was on the scene “within minutes” and quickly determined those at the school were not in danger.
Shelton explained that law enforcement located the shooter, and after speaking with him determined there was no threat to the school.
Chief Deputy Lauren Osborne said the neighboring homeowner told deputies that he had ducks on his land, and that one of the migrating geese was attacking his ducks. He said he was trying to protect his ducks.
According to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, “Canada geese are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and various state and federal laws. In accordance with these laws it is unlawful to hunt, kill, sell, purchase or possess migratory birds, except as permitted by regulations. … Currently there are closed hunting seasons in North Carolina … throughout much of the state during a special season in September.”
However, Osborne pointed out, there is a provision in the law that a person has a right to protect himself or his livestock from wild animals. So in this case there likely will be no charges filed, he said.
Dickerson said Principal Paige Badgett also quickly communicated the situation to parents via social media and a voice mail, and kept them updated as events unfolded.
She said the initial report of the shooting came at 10:25 a.m., and the school was released from lockdown around 11 a.m., with a normal class schedule resuming.
“We appreciate the quick response by North Surry High School administrative staff and the staff at the Surry County Sheriff’s Office,” Dickerson said.