Sheriff's office: Mother of Pender student alerted deputies about son's Instagram post before lockdowns

Sheriff's office: Mother of Pender student alerted deputies about son's Instagram post before lockdowns
The mother of an 18-year-old Pender County student accused of bringing weapons onto the campus of Topsail High School alerted authorities about a social media post from her son made Tuesday morning.
Bryce Matthew Sheehan made his first court appearance Wednesday morning. (Source: WECT)
Bryce Matthew Sheehan made his first court appearance Wednesday morning. (Source: WECT)
One of the students arrested Tuesday morning in Pender County. (Source: Viewer submitted)
One of the students arrested Tuesday morning in Pender County. (Source: Viewer submitted)
Bryce Matthew Sheehan (Source: PCSO)
Bryce Matthew Sheehan (Source: PCSO)

PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - The mother of an 18-year-old Pender County student accused of bringing weapons onto the campus of Topsail High School alerted authorities about a social media post that her son made Tuesday morning. That warning is what prompted lockdowns at multiple county schools.

Bryce Matthew Sheehan of Hampstead is charged with possession of a weapon that is not a firearm on educational property.

During Sheehan's first court appearance Wednesday morning, prosecutors asked the judge to increase Sheehan's bond from $8,000 to $25,000 and to subject him to house arrest and electronic monitoring if he makes bail. The judge granted the requests.

Sheehan's next court appearance is Aug. 1.

According to the Pender County Sheriff's Office, it received a call from Sheehan's mother just before 8:30 a.m. about a potentially threatening Instagram post her son made earlier that morning.

The post appears to show two firearms on a rack with the caption: "Which do you think I could do more damage with?"

Authorities immediately initiated code red lockdowns at Topsail High as well as Topsail Middle School and Topsail Elementary. North Topsail and South Topsail elementary schools were issued code yellow lockdowns.

Deputies found Sheehan sitting in his vehicle in front of Topsail High School armed with four knives and no firearms. He was taken into custody.

A second student, 16-year-old Alan Edwardo Jr. of Hampstead, was also arrested after he brought a .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle onto campus. Edwardo told deputies he heard about the code red lockdown at Topsail High and was attempting to stop the suspect.

Edwardo was arrested and charged with possession of a firearm on educational property and given a $2,000 bond. He is expected to make his first court appearance on Thursday.

No one was injured during the incidents.

Sheriff's office officials said that Sheehan and Edwardo were not working together on a possible school attack.

The Pender County School District said Wednesday it could not comment on the disciplinary status of both students, but that policy states:

"As required by law, a student who brings or possesses a firearm or destructive device on school property or at a school-sponsored event must be suspended for 365 days, unless the superintendent modifies, in writing, the required 365-day suspension for an individual student on a case-by-case basis." This policy is consistent with and pursuant to State and Federal law."

Miranda Ferguson, a spokeswoman for Pender County Schools, also said there were an abundance of absences and check-outs within the school system after the lockdown. Topsail High School had 969 student absences/check-outs, Topsail Middle School had 53 student absences/check-outs, and Topsail Elementary School had 21 student absences/check-outs.

Ferguson stated as of Wednesday, there have been 149 absences and checkouts at Topsail High School, 12 absences and checkouts at Topsail Middle School, and 18 absences and checkouts at Topsail Elementary School.

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