CARTHAGE, NC (AP) – Two power substations in a North Carolina county were damaged by gunfire in what is being investigated as a criminal act, causing damage that could take days to repair and leaving tens of thousands of people without electricity, authorities said on Sunday.
In response to ongoing outages, which began just after 7pm on Saturday across Moore County, officials announced a state of emergency that included a curfew from 9pm on Sunday to 5am yesterday. Also, county schools were closed yesterday.
“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,” Governor Roy Cooper wrote on Twitter.
Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said at a Sunday news conference that authorities have not determined a motivation. He said someone pulled up and “opened fire on the substation, the same thing with the other one”.
“No group has stepped up to acknowledge or accept that they’re the ones that done it,” Fields said, adding “we’re looking at all avenues.”
The sheriff noted that the FBI was working with state investigators to determine who was responsible. He also said “it was targeted.”
“It wasn’t random,” Fields said.
Fields said law enforcement is providing security at the substations and for businesses overnight.
“We will have folks out there tonight around the clock,” Fields said.
Roughly 36,000 electric customers in the county were without power on Sunday evening, according to poweroutage.us.
With cold temperatures on Sunday night, the county also opened a shelter at a sports complex in Carthage.
Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks said multiple pieces of equipment were damaged and will have to be replaced. He said while the company is trying to restore power as quickly as possible, he braced customers for the potential of outages lasting days.