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Two power substations in a North Carolina county were struck by gunfire in what police say is being investigated as a criminal act, causing damage that could take days to repair leaving tens of thousands of people in the dark without electricity.

In response to ongoing outages, which began just after 7pm on Saturday night across Moore County, officials announced a state of emergency that included a curfew from 9pm on Sunday until 5am on Monday. 

Also, county schools will be closed Monday.

‘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,’ Governor Roy Cooper wrote on Twitter.

Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said during a Sunday news conference that authorities have not determined a motive behind the vandalism.

Fields also said investigators have found no evidence or reason to believe that the Saturday evening attack was tied to a controversial drag show in downtown Southern Pines. 

This photos shows the gate to the Duke Energy West End substation in Moore County, North Carolina on Sunday

This photos shows the gate to the Duke Energy West End substation in Moore County, North Carolina on Sunday

Duke Energy workers inspect what they said was one of three bullet holes that crippled an electrical substation after the Moore County Sheriff said vandalism caused a power outage

Duke Energy workers inspect what they said was one of three bullet holes that crippled an electrical substation after the Moore County Sheriff said vandalism caused a power outage

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

Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said during a Sunday news conference that authorities have not determined a motivation behind the vandalism

Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said during a Sunday news conference that authorities have not determined a motivation behind the vandalism

The power went out during the Downtown Divas show at the Sunrise Theater about an hour into the show. Prior to the show, a number of protesters and counter-protesters had demonstrated out in front of the theater. 

Organizers of the drag show revealed how far-right activists had tried to shut down the event for weeks. 

In response to threats of violence, organizers then beefed up security for Saturday’s event with the  Southern Pines Police Department monitoring.

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One local, Emily Grace Rainey, who is a former Army Captain had posted an invitation to the drag show protest on her Facebook page on Saturday morning, posted on Saturday night, ‘The power is out in Moore County, and I know why.’ 

Fields said investigators have found no evidence or reason to believe the attack was tied to a controversial drag show in downtown Southern Pines

Fields said investigators have found no evidence or reason to believe the attack was tied to a controversial drag show in downtown Southern Pines

Organizers of the drag show at the Sunrise Theater in Southern Pines said last week that far-right activists had tried to shut down the event for weeks. The event was cut short after the power went out

Organizers of the drag show at the Sunrise Theater in Southern Pines said last week that far-right activists had tried to shut down the event for weeks. The event was cut short after the power went out

Emily Rainey, a former Army Captain posted an invitation to a drag show protest on her Facebook page

Emily Rainey, a former Army Captain posted an invitation to a drag show protest on her Facebook page

Army Captain Emily Rainey is pictured. She was forced to leave the force last year

Army Captain Emily Rainey is pictured. She was forced to leave the force last year

One local, Emily Grace Rainey, who had posted an invitation to the drag show protest on her Facebook page on Saturday morning, posted on Saturday night, 'The power is out in Moore County, and I know why.'

One local, Emily Grace Rainey, who had posted an invitation to the drag show protest on her Facebook page on Saturday morning, posted on Saturday night, ‘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. '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,' she wrote in the post.

Deputies with the Moore County Sheriff’s Office visited her home within hours of the posting. ‘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,’ she wrote in the post.

Earlier in the week Emily Grace had been encouraging people to attend a protest against the the drag show

Earlier in the week Emily Grace had been encouraging people to attend a protest against the the drag show

Supporters of the drag show were seen outside the theater on Saturday evening and were kept apart from those protesting the event

Supporters of the drag show were seen outside the theater on Saturday evening and were kept apart from those protesting the event 

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

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‘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,’ she wrote in the post.

During Sunday’s press conference Sheriff Fields said someone pulled up and ‘opened fire on the substation, the same thing with the other one.’

‘No group has stepped up to acknowledge or accept that they’re the ones that done it,’ Fields said, adding ‘we’re looking at all avenues.’

The sheriff noted that the FBI was working with state investigators to determine who was responsible. He also said ‘it was targeted.’ ‘It wasn’t random,’ Fields added.

Duke Energy personnel work to restore power at a second crippled electrical substation after the Moore County Sheriff said that vandalism caused a mass power outage, in Carthage, North Carolina

Duke Energy personnel work to restore power at a second crippled electrical substation after the Moore County Sheriff said that vandalism caused a mass power outage, in Carthage, North Carolina

Barriers designed to absorb oil are placed nearve a damaged transformer that Duke Energy workers said was hit by gunfire

Barriers designed to absorb oil are placed nearve a damaged transformer that Duke Energy workers said was hit by gunfire

Duke Energy workers gather as they plan how to repair a crippled electrical substation that has left 40,000 homes without power

Duke Energy workers gather as they plan how to repair a crippled electrical substation that has left 40,000 homes without power

Gerardo Anicero warms himself in front of a makeshift fire as he watches Duke Energy personnel work to restore power. The work could take several days

Gerardo Anicero warms himself in front of a makeshift fire as he watches Duke Energy personnel work to restore power. The work could take several days 

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

Fields said law enforcement is providing security at the substations and for businesses overnight.

‘We will have folks out there tonight around the clock,’ Fields said.

Roughly 37,000 electric customers in the county were without power on Sunday evening, according to poweroutage.us.

With cold temperatures forecast for Sunday night, the county also opened a shelter at a sports complex in Carthage.

Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks said multiple pieces of equipment were damaged and will have to be replaced. He said while the company is trying to restore power as quickly as possible, he braced customers for the potential of outages lasting days.

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‘We are looking at a pretty sophisticated repair with some fairly large equipment and so we do want citizens of the town to be prepared that this will be a multiday restoration for most customers, extending potentially as long as Thursday,’ Brooks said at the news conference.

Duke Energy worked to restore power on Sunday night at crippled electrical substationsin Moore County that the workers said was hit by gunfire

Duke Energy worked to restore power on Sunday night at crippled electrical substationsin Moore County that the workers said was hit by gunfire

Two holes that a Duke Energy worker said were caused by gunfire that crippled an electrical substation are seen in radiators attached to a transformer

Two holes that a Duke Energy worker said were caused by gunfire that crippled an electrical substation are seen in radiators attached to a transformer

Duke Energy workers talk as they plan how to repair one of crippled electrical substations

Duke Energy workers talk as they plan how to repair one of crippled electrical substations

Dr. Tim Locklear, the county’s school superintendent, announced classes will be canceled on Monday.

‘As we move forward, we’ll be taking it day by day in making those decisions,’ Locklear said.

The Pilot newspaper in Southern Pines reported that one of its journalists saw a gate to one of the substations had been damaged and was lying in an access road.

‘A pole holding up the gate had clearly been snapped off where it meets the ground. The substation´s infrastructure was heavily damaged,’ the newspaper reported.

The county of approximately 100,000 people lies about an hour’s drive southwest of Raleigh and is known for golf resorts in Pinehurst and other communities.

A Duke Energy worker inspects a transformer radiator. Authorities called it a 'targeted attack' although the motive for the Saturday night damage spree wasn't clear

A Duke Energy worker inspects a transformer radiator. Authorities called it a ‘targeted attack’ although the motive for the Saturday night damage spree wasn’t clear

The incidents are being investigated by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI

The incidents are being investigated by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI

About 64% of Moore County's electric customers remained without power on Sunday night in a largely rural area of the state 90 miles east of Charlotte

About 64% of Moore County’s electric customers remained without power on Sunday night in a largely rural area of the state 90 miles east of Charlotte

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