CARTHAGE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Authorities across law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, have launched an extensive and intensive investigation after power substations were targeted and intentionally damaged, Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields confirms.
Sheriff Fields announced the news Sunday afternoon, nearly 24-hours after about 40,000 were left in the dark from a massive power outage Saturday night.
"It was a targeted, intentional attack and was not random," Sheriff Ronnie Fields said. He said the suspect(s) used guns to cause substantial damage to Duke Energy power stations in Moore County.
Here's what we know so far:
"Between 7:00 p.m. and 8 p.m. two Duke Energy substations went offline due to "intentional impact" damaging multiple pieces of equipment, Jeff Brooks of Duke Energy said.
--The damage was so extensive, Duke Energy had to bring in special equipment and crews to complete the repairs.
-- It could be Thursday before some get their power restored because of the damage.
Power outages start in Carthage
The sheriff said the power outages began in the Carthage area. Shortly thereafter, the outages spread to the central and southern parts of Moore County.
-- Deputies and Duke Energy crews went to the source of power failure and found extensive damage at two substations.
-- Evidence at the scene indicated that a firearm had been used to disable the equipment. Moore County deputies along with officers from other municipalities, the state SBI and other agencies assisted throughout the night to provide security at the substations.
-- As of Sunday, the FBI, NC State Bureau of Investigations (SBI) are joining the investigation.
-- The Town of Southern Pines (roughly 16,000 people) is completely without power, according to Fire Chief Mike Cameron.
The sheriff said his deputies are "absolutely" looking into whether there's a link to a drag show Saturday night in Moore County. He said there is no immediate connection to the drag show but he said it's a possibility. No individual or group has stepped forward to acknowledge responsibility.
"It's a very serious situation," Fields said. "We're living in some challenging times. We're dealing with things we never thought we'd be dealing with."
Since the attack
-- Moore County Manager has issued a State of Emergency
-- A countywide curfew starts Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. Monday
-- All Moore County Schools are closed Monday.
-- Moore County Transportation Services will operate to transport clients scheduled for dialysis, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments only.
-- All other Moore County Operations are cancelled with a plan to expand operations that will function on Tuesday, December 6.
Red Cross shelter opened at 4 pm
Moore County shelter operated by the Red Cross is located at the Moore County Sports Complex; the Recreation Center 155 Hillcrest Park Lane in Carthage. For more information you can call 910-947-6317.