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'Violence and sabotage will not be tolerated': Gov. Cooper addresses Moore County substation attacks

Cooper official podium.jpeg
Governor Cooper Official Twitter
Governor Roy Cooper delivers updates on the Moore County substation attacks during a press conference on Dec. 5, 2022.

Updated at 5:45 p.m.

In a Monday afternoon press conference, Governor Roy Cooper — along with state and county officials — delivered an update on the attacks at two substations in Moore County that left approximately 45,000 Duke Energy customers without power on Saturday evening.

"This kind of attack raises a new level of threat," Cooper said. "We will be evaluating ways to work with our utility providers, and our state and federal officials to make sure that we harden our infrastructure where that's necessary, and work to prevent future damage."

The governor told reporters that a motive has not yet been confirmed for the shootings.

"Regardless of motive, violence, and sabotage will not be tolerated," he said.

Two substations were attacked and "the effect of that ultimately resulted in the larger outage that affected 45,000 [customers], which is nearly all the customers that Duke Energy serves in Moore County," said Duke Energy Spokesperson Jeff Brooks.

Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields reconfirmed that the "damage was done by firearms." Whether both substations were attacked simultaneously is still under investigation, he said.

US Power Outage Vandalism
Karl B DeBlaker
Eden Maracco, 8, has lunch with her family while power is out at her home, at Reds Food Truck Corner in Southern Pines, N.C., Monday, Dec. 5, 2022. Tens of thousands of people braced for days without electricity in a North Carolina county where authorities say two power substations were shot up by one or more people with apparent criminal intent.

On Sunday night, power was restored to 7,000 Duke Energy customers in the county, said Brooks. According to Duke Energy's outage map, more than 32,000 customers remain without power as of 4:30 p.m. Monday.

In a public alert, Duke Energy said that equipment is needed in "some areas where damage is beyond repair" and that technicians are working in 24-hour shifts to bring back service.

"But we could still see this extend Wednesday into Thursday," said Brooks.

Duke Energy will donate $100,000 to assist the community.

"We'll be working with organizations like the Red Cross and other groups to help to help address where we need to be," said Brooks.

An emergency shelter has been set up at the Moore County Sports Complex Recreation Center at 155 Hillcrest Park Lane, Carthage, N.C. More information about the shelter is available at 910-947-6317.

A multitude of state and local agencies are involved in responding to the attacks. The North Carolina Department of Public Safety is "fully engaged with personnel and resources," said NCDPS Secretary Eddie Buffaloe. State Highway Patrol, the Division of Emergency Management, Alcohol Law Enforcement are also involved in the response.

The State Bureau of Investigation is assisting the FBI as well as the Moore County Sheriff's Office to investigate, said Buffaloe.

Moore County Schools will be closed again Tuesday to all students and staff due to the ongoing power outage. School officials say they're assessing the situation and will announce by 4 p.m. Tuesday whether or not schools will reopen on Wednesday.

Sheriff Fields is asking those with any information about the attacks to call a tip line set up through the Moore County Sheriff's Office at 910-947-4444.

WUNC's Liz Schlemmer contributed to this report.

Laura Pellicer is a digital reporter with WUNC’s small but intrepid digital news team.