The FBI is looking into power outages in North Carolina that were caused by “targeted” attacks on electrical substations.
The FBI joined the investigation into power outages in a North Carolina county that are thought to have been caused by “intentional” and “targeted” attacks on substations that left about 40,000 customers without power. No suspects or motives have been named. Saturday night was dark, so there was a curfew and a state of emergency.
Governor Roy Cooper said that there will be a reward of up to $75,000 for information that leads to the people who attacked two Duke Energy power substations in Moore County and cut power to more than 40,000 customers.
Cooper said that the state government is offering $25,000 to find the person or people who attacked the power grid, which affected more than 40,000 Duke Energy customers in Moore County.RELATED
Moore County and Duke Energy, too, have reward programs.
He also said that Moore County and Duke Energy are each offering $25,000 for information that leads to the shooters.
“We will not stand for an attack on our critical infrastructure,” Cooper said at a news conference.
“I am glad that law enforcement is working together to leave no stone unturned in their search for those who did this,” he said.
He also thanked Moore County and Duke Energy for the $25,000 reward they were offering.
Governor Cooper said, “I would like to thank Moore County and Duke Energy for matching the state’s reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.”
Authorities in Moore County, North Carolina, told people to get ready for days without power after a targeted attack on substations left about 45,000 people without electricity.
Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said that one or more suspects walked into two Duke Energy electrical substations Saturday night—in one case, by forcing a door open—and started shooting, knocking out machines and causing a blackout for 45,000 customers of the electric company that could last until Thursday.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and state investigators have joined the investigation to find out who was behind the attack, and a curfew has been put in place in the county until 9 p.m. On Monday, schools were also told to close, and shelters were set up for people who needed electricity for medical devices or to heat their homes.
The National Weather Service says that the lowest temperature in the area overnight will be 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
When asked at a news conference on Sunday if the attacks on the substations were acts of domestic terrorism, Fields said that federal law enforcement would make that decision.
In a statement, the Charlotte, North Carolina, field office of the FBI confirmed that it was involved in the investigation and called the attacks on the substations “intentional damage.”
The sheriff said he did not know what led to the case. When asked if it had anything to do with an LGBTQ+ drag show in Southern Pines at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Fields said, “It is possible, yes.”
He said, “Everything is possible.” “But we have not been able to figure out what the drag show has to do with anything.”
Naomi Dix, who ran the show and hosted the event at the Sunrise Theater, said in an interview that the show went on Saturday night even though the power went out at 8:15 p.m.
She also said that she did not know the blackout could have had anything to do with the event until she heard on Saturday night’s news that there were unconfirmed reports that the blackouts could have been caused by someone trying to disrupt the meeting.
Dix said, “The show got a lot of negative feedback from right-wing conservatives who did not want us there.”
The Fayetteville Observer, a local newspaper, said on Friday that the Downtown Divas event had been the target of threats, criticism, and false claims about the LGBTQ+ community and certain types of crimes.
Dix added, “This is nothing new for our community.”
The publication says that the organizers and venue went ahead with the plans, but they changed the age limit for all attendees to 18+ to keep children away from any possible protests.
On Saturday, the organizers of a children’s Drag Queen Story Hour event in Columbus, Ohio, canceled the event because they said far-right protesters, some of whom were carrying long weapons, were too scary.
Far-right groups like the Proud Boys have held protests against this kind of act, in which drag queens tell children stories with different characters.
White supremacists’ goal
Right-wing extremists are also interested in the country’s power grid, and some of them think it could be the key to big political changes.
Brian Levin, who runs the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University San Bernardino, said in February that white supremacists who want to “destabilize” the United States have long wanted to attack power lines and other infrastructure.
This year, three men who had planned to attack electrical substations pleaded guilty. Federal prosecutors said at the time that the three wanted to mess up the power grid, cause civil unrest and economic uncertainty, and eventually start a race war.
The defendants agreed to take fentanyl from “suicide necklaces” if they were ever arrested, but when that day came, only one of them took his share of the drug and lived, prosecutors said.
Despite the Sheriff Fields of Moore County did not say that the power outage was caused by the drag show, but he did say that the substations were “targeted.”
Authorities say that the long-lasting effects of the blackout were caused by major parts of the facility breaking down in a way that had never happened before.
Duke Energy, which is the main power company in the area, said that most blackouts are fixed in about an hour.
But Saturday night’s blackout was different.
Jeff Brooks, a spokesman for Duke Energy, said late Saturday, “It is definitely a complicated fix.”
Brooks says that the equipment at the substation could be changed out until Thursday.
“Unlike during a storm, when you can go and send power somewhere else, you could not do that this time,” Brooks said at a news conference on Sunday.
It said on Sunday, “This is a fairly complicated repair that involves a lot of people, so we want the city’s residents to be ready for a fix that will take several days for most customers and could last until Thursday.”
Pump stations that move sewage to treatment plants were also not working, and people were told by the government to stay off the roads. “Many accidents have happened,” the management of Southern Pines said in a Facebook post.
Moore County is in south-central North Carolina. Officials told people not to go there and told residents not to drive, especially at night when street lights and traffic signs do not help much.
Authorities say the countywide curfew started at 9 p.m. on Sunday and will likely last for several more days until the power is back on. The curfew is in effect until 5 a.m.
Local officials rushed to help the places without power. No one knew if it was to stop people from stealing or if it was part of the investigation.
In a statement, the city of Pinehurst said, “Officers have been called to help.” “If you can, please stay off the roads.”
Attacks on the power grid in Moore County
Last Saturday, two Duke Energy power substations in Moore County were shot at, cutting power to more than 40,000 customers.
Service is being slowly brought back online. On Tuesday, Duke Energy said that electricity was back on for about 10,000 customers.
The FBI is looking into things.
They fix the damage done to power stations in North Carolina. The police are still looking for the person who did it.
The massive power outage in Moore County led to a criminal investigation when utility workers found signs of possible equipment vandalism at different sites. According to the County Sheriff’s Office, two substations had been damaged by gunfire.
“The person or people who did this knew exactly what they were doing,” Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said at a news conference on Sunday. “We do not know why Moore County is where it happened.”
Fields said that the two substations were hit by more than one shot. “It was not a random act, it was planned,” he said.
The sheriff would not say if the crime was domestic terrorism, but he did say that “no group has come forward to admit or accept that they [did it].”
Starting Sunday night, there will be a mandatory curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Fields said that the decision was made to keep people and businesses safe.
Authorities say that the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is working with the FBI on the investigation.
As of Sunday night, Duke Energy’s outage map showed that more than 33,000 customers were still without power across the county. Authorities say that some people may not have power until Thursday, which will mess up the lives of tens of thousands.
On Monday, all of the county’s schools will be closed, and the government has set up a shelter that runs on a generator.
Traffic lights are also out, and WABNEWS affiliate WRAL said that while some stores with generators were able to open on Sunday, many businesses and churches in Moore County were closed.
“We were starting to feel better. …and this, “”It will hurt all of our restaurants and businesses,” the sheriff said.
People are finding it hard to keep their homes at a good temperature during the winter.
“At home, we have a six-month-old child. We do not have a way to get warm. We are trying to make sure she has heat, “Chris Thompson, who lives in Carthage, told WRAL.
The National Weather Service said that the area would have lows below 0 degrees Celsius overnight on Sunday. Highs would be in the 50s, and it was likely to rain on Monday. Moore County is in the middle of North Carolina, about 50 miles northwest of Fayetteville.
Blackouts have caused millions of dollars worth of damage.
The damage to the substation is expected to cost a lot of money, the sheriff said on Sunday.
Jeff Brooks, the senior manager of communications for Duke Energy, said that power can not be moved because of how bad the damage is.
Brooks said, “The equipment will have to be changed.” “We are working on more than one way to get power back on so that as many customers as possible can get it back as soon as possible. Taking this into account, we are looking at a pretty complicated fix that will require a pretty big team.”
Asst. Chief Mike Cameron of the Southern Pines Fire and Rescue Department told WABNEWS that the man shot holes in the substations and appears to have ripped a door off its hinges at one of them.
Even though it is not clear what led to the alleged vandalism, the sheriff responded on Sunday to rumors that the attack was meant to stop a local drag show.
Fields said that investigators “have not been able to connect anything to the drag show,” which was supposed to happen in the town of Southern Pines at 7 p.m. on Saturday, when the power went out.
On Sunday, people who work for Duke Energy got together to figure out how to fix an electrical substation in Carthage, North Carolina. (Photo by Jon Drake/Reuters)
Open the shelters and close the schools
Officials said that the county declared a state of emergency to protect people and their property and to keep public services running. As long as the emergency declaration is in place, the countywide curfew should be in place every night.
“Tonight will be very dark and cold, so we do not need anyone in the house.
“There are too many people on the streets, and that is why we have a curfew,” North Carolina State Senator Tom McInnis said at a news conference. “Please stay home tonight. It is dangerous on the roads.”
The emergency order also tells people to use less gas.
Cameron told WABNEWS that because the traffic lights are broken, there have been more calls to 911 and car accidents in the area since the streets are dark.
People who need oxygen have also called for help, he said.
Moore County Administrator Wayne Vest said that a shelter has opened at the Moore County Sports Complex and that toilet and shower trailers are being brought in.
It is not clear how long schools will be closed. Moore County Superintendent Tim Locklair said that decisions about when schools will open for the rest of the week will be made each day.