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Moore County investigators have applied for search warrants in substation shootings

US-Power Outage Vandalism
Karl B DeBlaker
Workers work on equipment at the West End Substation, at 6910 NC Hwy 211 in West End, N.C., Monday, Dec. 5, 2022, where a serious attack on critical infrastructure has caused a power outage to many around Southern Pines, N.C.

Investigators working to uncover who shot up two electrical substations in Moore County, N.C. have now applied for multiple search warrants.

Forty-five thousand customers — representing nearly all residents in Moore County — lost power Saturday night shortly after 7 p.m. when one or more individuals used firearms to attack the substations. Most residents went nearly four days without power, facing temperatures as low as 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Power was fully restored on Wednesday but schools in the county remain closed.

Chief Deputy Richard Maness said the Moore County Sheriff's Office had applied for several warrants over the past few days. Maness said the warrants are "under seal" and declined to confirm what property the warrants were for, or even whether they'd been carried out yet.

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

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.

According to reporting from ABC11, authorities have also filed federal search warrants in this case.

On Wednesday, the FBI posted a public notice seeking information related to the attacks.

Governor Roy Cooper also announced that the state, Duke Energy and Moore County are each offering monetary rewards of $25,000 — amounting to $75,000 together — for information surrounding the shootings.

Maness said that investigators had retrieved shell casings found at the substations. He declined to say how many or for what kind of weapons.

Investigators had previously confirmed that one or more people fired multiple rounds and that the shots seemed to have been aimed by someone knowledgeable about electrical grid equipment.

Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said Monday that whoever was responsible “knew exactly what they were doing" to cause the outage.

Officials have not announced any arrests or publicly named suspects in the attacks.

On Monday, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said that the attack "raises a new level of threat" and that "violence and sabotage will not be tolerated."

Initial reports of the power attack being linked to protests at a drag queen show in the county have not been substantiated.

Residents with information about the attacks can leave tips at the Moore County Sheriff's Office tip line: 910-947-4444.

Jay Price has specialized in covering the military for nearly a decade.
Laura Pellicer is a digital reporter with WUNC’s small but intrepid digital news team.