MOORE COUNTY, N.C. — Tens of thousands of people remained without power in Moore County on Monday after shootings at two substations damaged equipment, prompting officials to issue a curfew for residents and close schools.
On Sunday, authorities said the shootings appeared intentional and targeted at knocking out power to the county.
“An attack like this on critical infrastructure is a serious, intentional crime and I expect state and federal authorities to thoroughly investigate and bring those responsible to justice,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in a social media post.
The incident began around 7 p.m. Saturday when people began reporting outages in the Carthage area, Sheriff Ronnie Fields said. The outages soon spread over Moore County, leaving 45,000 residents without electricity, according to Duke Energy.
As of Monday morning, the number of outages topped 35,000, according to outage tracking site poweroutages.us. Officials earlier warned that the outages could last for days as crews work to address extensive damage to equipment that was caused by gunfire.
“Unlike perhaps a storm where you can go in and reroute power somewhere else, that was not an option in this case,” Jeff Brooks, a spokesperson for Duke Energy, said Sunday at a news conference. “In many cases, some of that equipment will have to be replaced.”
The FBI and state authorities are helping to investigate the incidents, which state Sen. Tom McInnis called “intentional, willful and malicious.”
Fields said Sunday that officials couldn’t immediately say whether the shootings, which appeared to be aimed at shutting down power in the county, were cases of domestic terrorism.
“We’re looking at all avenues,” he said. “The federal folks — they deal with the domestic terrorism more than the locals, so they’re on board and they’re working with us to examine exactly who (did) this.”
The sheriff added that the shooting did not appear to be random.
“It was targeted,” he said. “The person that (did) this, or the persons, knew exactly what they were doing.”
He said no people or groups have taken credit for the attacks.
Authorities continue to investigate.
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