Authorities Seek Warrants Related To NC Substation Shooting

 

CARTHAGE, N.C. (AP) — Law enforcement officials in North Carolina are applying for search warrants related to the weekend shooting of electric substations that caused widespread power outages in Moore County, authorities confirmed Thursday.

The FBI is seeking cell phone records that could indicate who was near the substations Saturday night, said an agency spokeswoman Shelley Lynch. Such search warrant applications “are a normal step in a law enforcement investigation,” she added.

Richard Maness, chief deputy of the Moore County Sheriff’s Office, told The News & Observer that detectives have requested court approval for several warrants. He declined to provide specifics or say whether they’ve been approved.

“But obviously with any criminal investigation like this that’s an invaluable tool for law enforcement,” he told the newspaper.

The outages began after one or more people drove up to two substations, breached the gates and opened fire on them, authorities have said.

The damage cut power to 45,000 customers as well as schools and a hospital. By Wednesday, Duke Energy said on its website that all of the equipment damaged in the attack had been fixed or replaced. The company said customers gradually got power back as it finished testing and restoration.

Police have not released a motive or said what kind of gun was used in the attack. But Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields told reporters Monday that whoever was responsible “knew exactly what they were doing to … cause the outage that they did.”

The state, county and Duke Energy are offering combined rewards of up to $75,000 total for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the attack.

“An attack on our critical infrastructure will not be tolerated,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Wednesday.


RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Duke Energy completed repairs Wednesday on electric substation equipment damaged in shootings over the weekend in central North Carolina.

Almost all households in Moore County had regained power as of 5 p.m. Wednesday, according to Duke Energy’s outage map. A peak of more than 45,000 customers lost power over the weekend.

Authorities have said the outages began shortly after 7 p.m. Saturday night after one or more people drove up to two substations, breached the gates and opened fire on them.

In a statement on its website, Duke Energy said all of the equipment damaged in the attack has been fixed or replaced. The company said customers gradually got power back throughout the day as it finished testing and restoration.

Police have not released a motive or said what kind of gun was used in the attack. But Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields told reporters Monday that whoever was responsible “knew exactly what they were doing to … cause the outage that they did.”

The FBI posted a notice Wednesday seeking information related to the investigation.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced that the state, county and Duke Energy were offering combined rewards of up to $75,000 total for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the attack.

“An attack on our critical infrastructure will not be tolerated,” Cooper said in a statement Wednesday.

Schools are closed through Thursday. The Moore County School District said it intends to bring students back on Friday but will wait until Thursday afternoon to make that determination.

FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital, a 402-bed acute care facility in Pinehurst, regained power shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday and gradually transitioned from emergency generators to normal power, the hospital website said.

The county’s transportation services are operating only for clients who have scheduled dialysis, chemotherapy and radiation treatment, according to the Moore County website.

Meanwhile, the Moore County outage brought renewed attention to a substation that was vandalized last month in another county about 150 miles (240 kilometers) southeast. A substation near Maysville in Jones County was damaged by vandals Nov. 11, causing outages to 12,000 customers that lasted about two hours, according to the Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative.

The vandals damaged transformers and caused them to leak coolant oil, the cooperative said in a news release. It was not immediately clear how the damage was done or if there is a link to the Moore County outages. The Jones County sheriff did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Wednesday.