The FBI is working with state and local law enforcement officials to investigate Saturday’s deliberate attacks on two electrical substations in North Carolina that left tens of thousands of people without power.
About 33,000 customers of Duke Energy remained without electricity on Monday after the facilities were damaged by gunfire in an intentional act of destruction whose motive remains unclear, authorities said.
The FBI is investigating the “wilful damage” to power facilities in Moore County, said Shelley Lynch, a spokesperson for the FBI field office in Charlotte. She declined to provide further details.
Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said Sunday that law enforcement personnel were working to gather evidence and identify the perpetrators. Fields declined to say how many gunshots hit each substation or whether security cameras captured footage of the attacks, citing a need to protect the investigation.
Investigators are exploring whether the incident was connected to a drag queen show held in the town of Southern Pines on Saturday evening, Fields said, but stressed that so far nothing indicated a link to the performance.
Organisers of the event said they had received violent threats from far-right activists in the lead-up to Saturday’s show, the Fayetteville Observer reported Friday. The show’s supporters and opponents planned duelling protests outside the venue.
The power outages began shortly after 7pm on Saturday, authorities said, plunging tens of thousands of residents into darkness and leaving some with limited access to water.
Although technicians are working around-the-clock, it could take until Thursday to restore power to the area, said a statement from Duke Energy. The county declared a state of emergency and implemented a curfew, while schools were closed Monday.