Government officials in Moore County, North Carolina declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew from 9 p.m. Sunday night to 5 a.m. Monday morning after two shooting attacks on power substations knocked out power for thousands of people. And while some on Twitter speculated the attacks may have been tied to a drag show in the area Saturday night, police have not yet identified any suspects or determined a motive.
The attacks on the substations, which were carried out “with firearms,” according to Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields, occurred on Saturday night around 7 p.m. ET, wiping out power for over 44,000 people. The attacks are being investigated as criminal acts, according to North Carolina’s governor.
“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 tweeted on Sunday.
The Pilot, a small local newspaper in Southern Pines, North Carolina, published a photo of a gate that was broken at one of the power substations. The gate had been locked, according to the newspaper, but it was shown in the photo to be tipped over and laying on the ground.
While the local power company, Duke Energy, is working as fast as it can to restore power, there’s significant damage to the equipment and some people in Moore County may not have power until Thursday, a spokesperson for Duke said at a press conference Sunday that was posted to YouTube.
“During our investigation of the outage we did determine that there had been intentional impact on the substation, damaging multiple pieces of equipment in the substation and causing power to go out there,” Jeff Brooks with Duke Energy said.
Duke Energy believes the damage is significant enough that some of the equipment will need to be replaced in order to get power restored.
“Unlike perhaps a storm where you can go in and reroute power somewhere else, that was not an option in this case, so repair has to be completed. In many cases some of that equipment will have to be replaced and our crews are currently working on the repair plan,” Brooks said.
The county’s water and sewer services are working on backup generators, according to the Fayetteville Observer, but the power outage caused street lights and traffic signals in the county to stop working. Stop signs have been put up as a temporary solution. Cell phone service is also reportedly down in the area.
The state of emergency in Moore County, roughly an hour southwest of Raleigh, may be extended through the week if power isn’t restored quickly enough. The FBI has been brought in to assist the investigation, according to the sheriff, while social media continues to speculate about who could be behind these attacks.
Emily Rainey, a former Army captain and psychological operations officer who participated in the January 6, 2021 attempt to illegally keep President Donald Trump in power, posted a message to Facebook on Saturday night that prompted some people to wonder if the attacks on the power grid were by anti-LGBT extremists.
“The power is out in Moore County, and I know why,” Rainey wrote. Though when Rainey posted a follow up message to say she’d been visited by police, she suggested the power outage was merely an act of God.
“The Moore County Sheriff’s Office just checked in. I welcomed them to my home,” Rainey wrote on Facebook.
“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 blasphemies screamed by its supporters. I told them God is chastising Moore County, thanked them for coming and wished them a good night. Thankful for the LEOs service, as always,” Rainey continued.
The drag show at Sunrise Theater in Southern Pines, which may or may not have been the reason for the attack, continued in the dark on Saturday even without power, according to local TV station WRAL.
Libs of TikTok, a far-right Twitter account that organizes harassment campaigns against LGBT people, also tweeted about the drag show on November 18.
All schools in Moore County have been cancelled for Monday, and some medical services are going to be delayed today, according to local TV station WRAL, which has published a tracker online for closings and delays. Moore County Regional Hospital is reportedly working on generator power, according to the Fayetteville Observer.