North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper briefs the press on Monday afternoon, as the majority of Moore County remains without power following substation attacks on Saturday night

The governor of North Carolina said Monday afternoon that armed attacks on two electrical substations that left tens of thousands without power were the result of criminal misdeeds and law enforcement is currently working to bring those responsible to justice.

Moore County, South Carolina, suffered major power outages over the weekend, prompting officials to declare a state of emergency as temperatures dipped close to freezing.

The outage was caused when a number of individuals vandalized and shot at the county’s power equipment, causing significant damage to two substations. More than 35,000 North Carolinians remain without power as emergency teams scramble to restore service to all impacted.

The attack and subsequent outage occurred as a locally protested drag show commenced on Saturday evening. Though law enforcement has not yet identified the attackers’ motive, they are exploring the possibility that the ongoing outage could be tied to the drag show.

On Monday, Governor Roy Cooper confirmed the outages were caused by an attack that poses ‘a new level of threat’ and that the FBI had joined the investigation.

‘What happened here Saturday night was a criminal attack,’ he said. 

Utility workers found gates were broken and evidence of damage to equipment caused by gunfire. 

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper briefs the press on Monday afternoon, as the majority of Moore County remains without power following substation attacks on Saturday night

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper briefs the press on Monday afternoon, as the majority of Moore County remains without power following substation attacks on Saturday night

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper briefs the press on Monday afternoon, as the majority of Moore County remains without power following substation attacks on Saturday night

Gerardo Anicero is pictured warming himself in front of a makeshift fire as he watches Duke Energy personnel work to restore power at a crippled electrical substation as temperatures dip below freezing in Moore County

Gerardo Anicero is pictured warming himself in front of a makeshift fire as he watches Duke Energy personnel work to restore power at a crippled electrical substation as temperatures dip below freezing in Moore County

Gerardo Anicero is pictured warming himself in front of a makeshift fire as he watches Duke Energy personnel work to restore power at a crippled electrical substation as temperatures dip below freezing in Moore County

Crews who responded to the scene of the electrical substations on Saturday found 'intentional impact on the substation, damaging multiple pieces of equipment,' officials sau

Crews who responded to the scene of the electrical substations on Saturday found 'intentional impact on the substation, damaging multiple pieces of equipment,' officials sau

Crews who responded to the scene of the electrical substations on Saturday found ‘intentional impact on the substation, damaging multiple pieces of equipment,’ officials sau

Authorities have restored power to some 7,000 residents, with 35,000 still reporting they do not have gas or heat on Monday

Authorities have restored power to some 7,000 residents, with 35,000 still reporting they do not have gas or heat on Monday

Authorities have restored power to some 7,000 residents, with 35,000 still reporting they do not have gas or heat on Monday

Cooper, a Democrat, added that state and local officials are working not only to apprehend the suspects, but do prevent future damage to the county’s power infrastructure.

‘I am sure that we will learn more about motives of this intentional attack to come,’ Cooper said. ‘Regardless of motive, violence and sabotage will not be tolerated.’

On Sunday evening, Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said the ‘person, or persons, who did this knew exactly what they were doing’ and that the attack was ‘targeted,’ not ‘random.’

However, at the time, law enforcement remained baffled as to why the attackers had selected Moore County to ambush.

Assisting vulnerable people during the outage remains a priority to Cooper’s administration, which includes ensuring residents are warm at night as winter temperatures continue to permeate houses without heat.

Power, which went out across the county Saturday night just after 7pm, will likely remain out in most of the county until at least Thursday, officials said. 

The power went out over the weekend during the Downtown Divas drag show at the Sunrise Theater about an hour into the performance. Prior to the show, a number of protesters and counter-protesters had gathered to demonstrate in front of the theatre.

Organizers of the drag show revealed that right-wing activists had tried to shut down the event for weeks leading up to it. In response to the threats, extra security were hired for the Saturday event.

Governor Cooper said on Monday that investigators are continuing to assess every possible motive in an attempt to find the perpetrators.

Drag show headliner Naomi Dix said in an interview that the power went out onstage at about 8.15pm, but that the show proceeded by candlelight.

Dix was unaware that the blackout may have had anything to do with the performance until hearing a news report about it later on Saturday night.

‘The show got a lot of heat from right-wing conservatives who did not want us there,’ Dix said. ‘This is nothing new to our community.’

Organizers of the show changed the age limit of the event from all ages to 18+ in the wake of the protests as a way to keep children away from the demonstrations. 

The outage came as a drag show was underway at the Sunrise Theater in Southern Pines. Investigators said they have not ruled out that the attack was related to the show

The outage came as a drag show was underway at the Sunrise Theater in Southern Pines. Investigators said they have not ruled out that the attack was related to the show

The outage came as a drag show was underway at the Sunrise Theater in Southern Pines. Investigators said they have not ruled out that the attack was related to the show 

Invitations to protest the drag show circulated throughout the small community for days in advance of the Saturday night performance. The one above was posted to Emily Rainey's Facebook page on Saturday morning

Invitations to protest the drag show circulated throughout the small community for days in advance of the Saturday night performance. The one above was posted to Emily Rainey's Facebook page on Saturday morning

Invitations to protest the drag show circulated throughout the small community for days in advance of the Saturday night performance. The one above was posted to Emily Rainey’s Facebook page on Saturday morning

One local, Emily Grace Rainey, a former Army Captain, posted an invitation to the drag show protest on her Facebook page on Saturday morning. Her Saturday evening post (above) prompted a visit from the sheriff's office, but she told them God was responsible for the outage

One local, Emily Grace Rainey, a former Army Captain, posted an invitation to the drag show protest on her Facebook page on Saturday morning. Her Saturday evening post (above) prompted a visit from the sheriff's office, but she told them God was responsible for the outage

One local, Emily Grace Rainey, a former Army Captain, posted an invitation to the drag show protest on her Facebook page on Saturday morning. Her Saturday evening post (above) prompted a visit from the sheriff’s office, but she told them God was responsible for the outage 

 

Moore County schools were closed Monday with the power grid down and may remain closed for longer until it is back up and running.

The outage has also caused several car crashed, triggered multiple reports of home breaks-ins and calls from residents worried that their vital medical equipment is shut off, as well as those with infants and small children in houses left without heat as temperatures fall dramatically overnight.

The drag show, which took place at the Sunrise Theater in Southern Pines, had drawn the attention of a group of protestors who demonstrated outside Saturday evening prior to its start. 

One local, Emily Grace Rainey, a former Army Captain, posted an invitation to the drag show protest on her Facebook page on Saturday morning.

On Saturday night, she wrote ‘The power is out in Moore County, and I know why.’

Deputies with the Moore County Sheriff’s Office visited her home within hours of the posting.

In a follow up post, she wrote: ‘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.’

A hole that a Duke Energy worker said was caused by gunfire that crippled an electrical substation is seen in a radiator attached to a transformer

A hole that a Duke Energy worker said was caused by gunfire that crippled an electrical substation is seen in a radiator attached to a transformer

A hole that a Duke Energy worker said was caused by gunfire that crippled an electrical substation is seen in a radiator attached to a transformer

The utility workers found gates were broken and evidence of gunfire damage to equipment

The utility workers found gates were broken and evidence of gunfire damage to equipment

The utility workers found gates were broken and evidence of gunfire damage to equipment

Multiple pieces of equipment were damaged in the shootings and will have to be replaced

Multiple pieces of equipment were damaged in the shootings and will have to be replaced

Multiple pieces of equipment were damaged in the shootings and will have to be replaced

The outages have already caused several accidents across the county, as the Moore Regional Hospital is operating on generator power.

A spokeswoman for the hospital told the News & Observer that the outage did not affect any of their patients, and noted that the hospital has enough fuel to last for several days, with plans in place to obtain more fuel as needed.

At least four people have been sent to the hospital for blackout-related injuries, following a four-car wreck at an intersection in Southern Pines.

‘The car wreck was totally because the lights were out,’ said Mike Cameron, the assistant town manager and fire chief.

He added that the North Carolina Department of Transportation has since been putting up temporary stop signs to help control traffic.

Firefighters were also busy responding to residents concerned about how the outage would affect vital medical equipment, while police responded to triggered alarms and reports of break-ins.

Fire, police, water and sewer services are also now operating on generator power.

A curfew is now in place for the county from 9pm to 5am, as Moore County residents contend with their ongoing predicament.

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