Power outages in North Carolina caused by gunfire in ‘malicious’ attack
Mass power outages in North Carolina over the weekend were caused by gunfire in a suspected criminal attack, authorities said Sunday.
Evidence at the scene suggests a firearm was used to disable the energy equipment, Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said in a press conference with other local officials.
State Sen. Tom McInnis (R) called the incident “an intentional, willful and malicious act” and said the perpetrators will be punished “to the fullest extent of the law.”
Outages began Saturday evening and affected much of Moore County. Authorities are investigating the outages as a criminal occurrence, and local law enforcement is working with the FBI to find the perpetrator or perpetrators.
Two substations run by Duke Energy, a Charlotte-based electric power and natural gas company, were damaged by the shootings, Fields said.
Authorities haven’t identified any motivations behind the incident, and no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but the sheriff said it’s clear the incident was “targeted.”
With the outages anticipated to continue for a few days, the county has declared a state of emergency and a curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. local time, effective Sunday until the emergency is lifted.
Moore County law enforcement found signs of “intentional vandalism” in what Fields said appeared to be an unprecedented attack against the system.
Local outlet The Pilot reported that the power was cut during a drag show in the area, but Fields said Sunday that no evidence yet indicates a connection to the show.
“Is it possible? Anything’s possible. But we’ve not been able to tie anything back to the drag show, no,” the sheriff said.
According to an outage map from Duke Energy, at least 35,000 North Carolina clients are without power. A tracker from Randolph Electric Membership Corporation, which also serves the area, reports another 2,000 outages.
“I have spoken with Duke Energy and state law enforcement officials about the power outages in Moore County. They are investigating and working to return electricity to those impacted. The state is providing support as needed,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said Sunday.