NEW INFO: Teacher dressed up as pirate prompted Richlands lockdown

We now know what exactly caused four Onslow County schools to go on lockdown a couple of weeks ago.

Deputies say Richlands Elementary School had been celebrating pirate week and a teacher came on school property dressed as a pirate.

A cafeteria worker spotted the man outside the school and reported him as a suspicious person to the office, which prompted the lockdown of that school and three others nearby.

According to a sheriff's office incident report released Wednesday, the worker mistook a plastic sword for a gun.

Deputies say they reviewed surveillance video and saw no one else fitting the description of the suspicious person.

The report says the teacher dresses up every year as a pirate for the annual school event.

Originally, the school system would only say the lockdown was brought about by a case of mistaken identity, but would not release any more details.

Richlands Elementary, along with Richlands Primary, Trexler Middle, and Richlands High School were on lockdown for several hours on September 19th.

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A case of mistaken identity led to four Onslow County schools being placed on lockdown Friday morning, according to school officials.

In a statement today the school district's spokeswoman, Suzie Ulbrich, said the sheriff's office completed the investigation of a suspicious person, reportedly with a gun on his hip at Richlands Elementary.

The suspicious person prompted that school and 3 others - Richlands Primary, Trexler Middle, and Richlands High - to be placed on lockdown Friday morning.

Ulbrich said the sheriff's office told the school district that this was a case of mistaken identity, and there was no malicious intent involved.

We have reached out to the sheriff's office and Ulbrich for more details about the case. We will keep you updated as information comes in.


It was terrifying I didn't know what was going on so I was like, all my friends and we were all huddled up in a corner. We was terrified.

The lockdown at four Richlands schools in Onslow County have been lifted. The report of a suspicious person in the community prompted the action.

School spokeswoman Suzie Ulbrich says Richlands Elementary School was placed on lockdown around 10:00 a.m. The other schools on lockdown were Richlands Primary, Trexler Middle and Richlands High.

"It was terrifying," says Bailey Padgett, a student at Trexler Middle. "I didn't know what was going on ... we were all huddled up in a corner."

A Highway Patrol trooper tells WITN's Rachael Cardin that a man approached a teacher at Richlands Elementary this morning. The teacher noticed the man had a gun on his hip; it's against the law to have a gun on school property. The teacher reported the man to officials, but he hasn't been seen since.

Ulbrich says police secured the schools, and parents who had arrived at the elementary school are now able to check out their children. Classes at the schools have resumed.

Authorities continue to look for the white man who was walking though the elementary school campus wearing cammo pants and a drab olive shirt.

Police say the school system utilized its new security system, and it was effective.