Over 40,000 Moore County, North Carolina residents were powerless on Sunday afternoon after two substations were taken out by gunfire on Saturday night, according to police.
Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said in a Facebook post on Saturday that just after 7 p.m. on that night, several communities across the county began to experience power outages.
Duke Energy, which operates the power grid in the county, responded to at least two different substations and there was evidence of intentional vandalism at both, Fields said.
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“We faced something last night here in Moore County we have never faced before,” Fields said during a Facebook Live press conference on Sunday afternoon.
The sheriff gave a few more details about the situation, saying there was extensive damage found at two substations caused by multiple gunshots, which caused power outages primarily in the central and northern portions of the county.
As of Sunday afternoon, PowerOutage.us said 40,679 customers were without power.
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Because of the power outage, a curfew will go into effect on Sunday at 9 p.m. until Monday morning at 5 a.m.
An investigation into the vandalism at the substations is underway by the FBI, State Bureau of Investigations, and local law enforcement agencies, around the clock.
Moore County Directory of Public Safety said during the press conference that the Moore County Sportsplex was being opened as a shelter at 4 p.m. on Sunday for those without power.
The facility can hold from 225-250 citizens and will remain open until the county feels it is unnecessary.
Jeff Brooks from Duke Energy said a full power restoration may not occur until Thursday.
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He explained that unlike a storm where power can be rerouted, there is equipment at the substations that needs to be replaced or repaired because of the gunfire.
The power company is pursuing multiple paths of restoration, Brooks said, and its number one priority is to get the power back on for customers.
As a result of the power outage, Moore County Schools Superintendent Tim Locklair announced schools would be closed on Monday and the situation would be evaluated on a day-by-day case.
“Folks, this was a terrible act,” State Senator Tom McInnis said, adding that the perpetrator who did the “terrible” act would be brought to justice.
Sheriff Fields would not go into the specifics of the investigation because he did not want to jeopardize it in any way.
But he did reaffirm the FBI and SBI were working every avenue they can to find the individual or individuals responsible.
No group has accepted responsibility for what Fields called at targeted attack – not calling it domestic terrorism.
“We have no motivation,” he said. “I call them cowards.”