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Tags: blackout | north carolina | drag show | gunfire

Attack on 2 N.C. Electrical Substations Leave 40K Powerless, Motive Sought

(Newsmax/"Eric Bolling The Balance")

By    |   Sunday, 04 December 2022 06:21 PM EST

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 Sunday.

In response to ongoing outages, which began just after 7 p.m. Saturday across Moore County, officials announced a state of emergency that included a curfew from 9 p.m. Sunday to 5 a.m. Monday. Also, county schools will be closed Monday.

The power outage in Moore County began just after 7 p.m. Saturday, the same time as the county's drag performance. It is being investigated as a criminal act, said Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Field in a Facebook post. About 40,000 electric customers remained without power on Sunday afternoon, according to poweroutage.us.

"As utility companies began responding to the different substations, evidence was discovered that indicated that intentional vandalism had occurred at multiple sites," the sheriff said.

Southern Pines Fire Chief Mike Cameron said the two substations in the county were damaged by gunfire on Saturday.

Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks said in a statement that the company was experiencing "multiple equipment failures" and was "investigating signs of potential vandalism related to the outages."

Southern Pines Fire and Rescue also reported the town's water and sewer services are operating on backup generators.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, said in a post on Twitter that the state was providing resources to investigators and power crews.

"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," he said.

“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,” Cooper wrote.

Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., released a statement early Sunday afternoon.

"Last night, unknown individuals vandalized at least two substations in Moore County with criminal intent. The motive for this crime remains unknown. Many Moore County residents remain without power. I want to thank Sheriff Ronnie Fields and all local law enforcement, as well as the SBI [North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation] and FBI, for their quick action to respond to the incident. I have also been in contact with Duke Energy and know they are working on all options to restore power as quickly as possible."

As the word of the outage spread, so did protests against a drag show Saturday night in Southern Pines.

Organizers of the drag show at the Sunrise Theater in Southern Pines said last week that conservative activists tried to shut down the event for weeks.

The Moore County Sheriff's Office has not stated whether the outage and the protests were related.

Southern Pines Christian school leaders alleged the drag performance targeted youth. In a Nov. 21 letter, Calvary Christian School administrators urged parents to contact the town council, the theater and show sponsors and request the event be canceled.

"The LGBTQ forces are coming to Southern Pines, and they are after our children," the letter read in part. "This is their target audience to peddle their abomination." 

The school's letter invited parents to join the Saturday protest on Broad Street across from the theater.

Emily Grace Rainey, who posted the invitation to the protest on Facebook, posted on Saturday night, "The power is out in Moore County, and I know why."

Deputies with the Moore County Sheriff's Office visited her home.

"Sorry they wasted their time. I told them that God works in mysterious ways and is responsible for the outage. I used the opportunity to tell them about the immoral drag show and the blasphemies screamed by its supporters," she wrote in the post. "God is chastising Moore County."

Naomi Dix, a Durham-based drag artist who hosted the event, told the audience that if the power outage resulted from the opposition's actions, then they need to remember that the situation is more than just social media comments, reported The Fayetteville Observer

"This has never been about drag queens and children; this is about their direct hate of anyone who does not share their beliefs," she said. "This is terrorism and nothing less." 

At a Sunday press conference, the Moore County sheriff's office announced a "state of emergency," mandating a curfew for the county from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. and extending as long as until Thursday.

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.

With cold temperatures forecast for 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.

“We are looking at a pretty sophisticated repair with some fairly large equipment and so we do want citizens of the town to be prepared that this will be a multiday restoration for most customers, extending potentially as long as Thursday," Brooks said at the news conference.

Dr. Tim Locklear, the county's school superintendent, announced classes will be canceled Monday.

“As we move forward, we'll be taking it day by day in making those decisions,” Locklear said.

The Pilot newspaper in Southern Pines reported that one of its journalists saw a gate to one of the substations had been damaged and was lying in an access road.

“A pole holding up the gate had clearly been snapped off where it meets the ground. The substation’s infrastructure was heavily damaged,” the newspaper reported.

The county of approximately 100,000 people lies about an hour's drive southwest of Raleigh and is known for golf resorts in Pinehurst and other communities.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Two power substations in a North Carolina county were damaged by gunfire in what authorities are calling an act of criminal vandalism, leaving tens of thousands of people without electricity, according to authorities.
blackout, north carolina, drag show, gunfire
Sunday, 04 December 2022 06:21 PM
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