Power has been restored in Moore County; sheriff asks for patience with the investigation

BySamantha Kummerer and Josh Chapin WTVD logo
Thursday, December 8, 2022
Power restored in Moore County; Sheriff 'committed' to getting answers
A State of Emergency and curfew remain in effect for Moore County overnight

MOORE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Duke Energy made good on its goal to fully restore power in Moore County by Wednesday night.

Only about 1,200 customers remained without power, Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks said at a 4 p.m. news conference. Most of those were southeast of Southern Pines, he added.

By 5:30 p.m., virtually all power had been restored.

A State of Emergency remains in effect for Moore County but will be lifted Thursday. That means a curfew in place will end at 5 a.m. Thursday.

Moore County officials share update on power outage, investigation

The shelter at the sports complex will remain open through noon Thursday, officials said.

RELATED: Recovery still an uphill battle for residents, businesses

Earlier, Duke Energy released a statement on the outage, "All substation equipment damaged from recent vandalism has either been fully repaired or replaced. Once we have completed all necessary testing, the gradual restoration of service to those Moore County communities still without power will begin. To avoid overwhelming the electrical system we will bring power back on gradually, with the goal of having the majority of customers restored before midnight tonight."

Reward offered to help find culprits

On Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Roy Cooper announced that the state, Duke Energy, and Moore County are each offering monetary rewards of up to a total of $75,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the destruction.

The state is providing up to $25,000 while Duke Energy and Moore County are also each offering rewards up to $25,000.

"An attack on our critical infrastructure will not be tolerated," Cooper said. "I appreciate the coordinated efforts of law enforcement to leave no stone unturned in finding the criminals who did this and I thank Moore County and Duke Energy for matching the state's reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible."

The Investigation

The Moore County Sheriff's Office along with numerous agencies are still on the case. Chief Sheriff Deputy Richard Maness said Wednesday that two dozen shell casings have been recovered at the two scenes. The type of weapon used or the caliber of the bullets is not yet known.

Authorities asked for patience as they said they are working around the clock.

"We want to know who and why," Sheriff Ronnie Fields said. "We are committed to getting you these answers."

Authorities are staying tight-lipped, so they aren't giving out much information, but that doesn't mean they don't have leads.

"Before we go into talking about possible suspects, leads publicly before the person is even charged or arrested, we could jeopardize being able to hold them accountable," Fields said. "And I know we all want justice in the end."

Moore County deputies are knocking on doors, seeking doorbell-camera footage from residents. They urged anyone who sees anything suspicious on their footage to come forward.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation released a poster seeking information on the shooting. It is asking anyone with information regarding the case to contact the Moore County Sheriff's Office tip line at (910) 947-4444. People can also contact a local FBI office, the nearest American Embassy or Consulate, or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.

Chris Swecker, who is the former head of criminal investigations for NC FBI during 9/11, said it's been a combined effort that's been quick to yield potential suspects.

He believes it's helpful it's a smaller community because Sheriff Fields knows absolutely everyone; that combined with SBI and FBI help.

"They know their people in their county and if there are people up to no good or people whose actions or past actions and maybe postings make them suspects, the sheriff will know about them," Swecker said.

Meanwhile, county schools are closed through Thursday.

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A decision for classes on Friday will be made Thursday.

Lingering effects in the community

While authorities hunt for a break in the case, people continue to suffer from the effects of the outage.

Gov. Roy Cooper said up to a $75,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the destruction.

On Wednesday, ABC11 spoke with one woman whose father-in-law was found dead Monday night.

Thomas Ross of Southern Pines was 97 years old.

"I think the people who did it, did this, did not even realize the impact of what they were doing," said Moore County resident Helena Hendrix-Frye. "And even, they just didn't realize it and just didn't care. But, you know, we were looking forward to, you know, he was going to be 98. And my husband just had a conversation; OK, what are we going to get your father for Christmas?"

Law enforcement officials said they aren't sure the power outage had an impact in this case but said Pinehurst Police are looking into another death as well.

"I Just feel like you know, this is a loss, and now here we are planning a funeral, and it should not have, it should not be this way," Hendrix-Frye said. "Should not be this way. We didn't ask for this. Nobody asked for this."

Hundreds of businesses are still struggling. Some are closed. Others are choosing to remain open and accept cash only.

A select few have access to a generator in an effort to bring in some kind of income.

Now that power has been restored, Moore County officials urged residents and visitors to patronize area businesses and help them recoup some of the losses incurred during the past several days.

RELATED: Can Moore County residents get reimbursed for food loss due to power outage?

Meanwhile, people who are cold and hungry can seek help through noon Thursday from open shelters for a hot meal and shower.