A power grid in Moore County, North Carolina was “intentionally attacked” on Saturday, leaving tens of thousands of people without power.
The North Carolina Department of Public Safety is working with the FBI in the investigation after firearms were used to disable equipment at two substations in the county.
Sheriff Ronnie Fields said he would leave it to the feds to determine whether the sabotage was domestic terrorism.
“This is a significant local outage that is affecting nearly all customers in Moore County, and customers should be prepared for an extended outage that could last beyond today, and as long as Thursday for many customers,” Duke Energy said in a statement, noting that 45,000 customers are without power.
While no motivation is known at this time, NBC News hyped the possibility that the attack could have been carried out by those on the right over a drag show that was taking place that evening.
The sheriff said the motive in the case was still unknown. Asked if there was any connection to a 7 p.m. LGBTQ+ drag show in the city of Southern Pines on Saturday, Fields said, "It is possible, yes."
"Anything is possible," he said. "But we haven’t been able to tie anything back to the drag show."
The headliner and host at the Sunrise Theater event, Naomi Dix, said in an interview that the show went on in candlelight Saturday after power ceased about 8:15 p.m.
She said she was unaware the outage might have had anything to do with the event until hearing news Saturday night that mentioned unconfirmed reports the outages may have been the result of an attempt to put the drag show in the dark.
"The show got a lot of heat from right-wing conservatives who did not want us there," Dix said.
The Fayetteville Observer reported Friday that the event, titled "Downtown Divas," was the subject of threats, criticism and unfounded allegations about the LGBTQ+ community and certain types of crime.
"This is nothing new to our community," Dix said.
Organizers and the venue carried on with planning but changed the age limit from all ages to 18 and older to keep children away from any possible protests, the publication said. (NBC News)
Gov. Roy Cooper thanked local and state officials for their “swift response … to protect public safety” as well as Duke Energy for its efforts to restore power.
“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,” he added. “Moore County has strong, vibrant communities and the state will continue to provide transportation and public safety assistance.”