The FBI is investigating a shooting near a power plant in South Carolina, just as power was restored to tens of thousands of people in North Carolina days after sabotage to critical infrastructure at two substations.
“There are reports of a shooting near the Wateree hydro plant in Ridgeway, South Carolina,” a Duke Energy spokesman said in an emailed statement. “Nobody was hurt. No outages reported. No property damage at this time.”
“We are working closely with the FBI on this matter,” the statement said.
Multiple sources told CBS News that a man stopped in front of a Kershaw County power plant before opening fire in a truck around 5:30 p.m. The man used what appeared to be a long gun before speeding off, and several Duke Energy employees witnessed the incident, the report said.
NORTH CAROLINA POWER OUTAGE: FEDERAL MEMO FLAGS WASHINGTON, OREGON SUBSTATION SIMILAR ATTACKS MOORE COUNTY
The Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office was contacted Thursday but did not immediately receive a response.
Kershaw County Sheriff Lee Boan told WLTX that he could not immediately confirm that the power plant had been targeted, as some reports indicated that someone had fired shots at or near the trees by the power plant.
He said his officers responded to the location to investigate and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) offered additional assistance. “We take it seriously,” Boan told WLTX.
Meanwhile, a state of emergency and curfew were lifted in Moore County, North Carolina at 5 a.m. Thursday.
Duke Energy’s outage map showed nearly all Moore County households had power restored as of 5 p.m. Wednesday. The FBI Charlotte said an “unknown” suspect or suspects fired multiple shots into two substations about 10 miles apart in Moore County Saturday night.
At its peak, the damage caused power outages for about 45,000 customers. The repair process took several days, and a state of emergency was declared in Moore County, which included a 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. curfew.
On Wednesday, Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields announced a $75,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the outages. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper’s office, Moore County and Duke Energy each contributed $25,000.
Federal law enforcement agencies have reportedly warned that power lines in Oregon and Washington have experienced physical attacks in recent days, including shootings and arson. The Department of Homeland Security reiterated its concerns about attacks on critical infrastructure in a threatening memo last week.
The Moore County outage brought renewed attention to a substation that was demolished last month in another North Carolina county about 150 miles to the southeast. On Nov. 11, vandals damaged a substation near Maysville in Jones County, knocking out 12,000 customers for about two hours, according to Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative.
The vandals damaged the transformers and caused coolant oil to leak from them, the cooperative said in a press release. It’s unclear how the damage was done or if it was related to the outage in Moore County.
Schools in Moore County remained closed to students through Thursday, but for the first time since the outages, employees had an optional day off until normal business is expected to resume Friday.
The shelter in Carthage will remain open until noon Thursday. Although several accidents have been reported due to the traffic lights being out, none of them have resulted in death. A resident was found dead in a home without power, and the case has been referred to the medical examiner to determine if the outages contributed to the death or if there was another pre-existing condition.
FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital, a 402-bed acute care facility in Pinehurst, restored power shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday and gradually transitioned from emergency generators to normal power, according to the hospital’s website . According to the Moore County website, the county’s transportation services only operate for clients scheduled for dialysis, chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks said all equipment is in place, installed and configured to the grid, and several thousand customers have been brought back online at the same time. By then, 12,000 customers southeast of Southern Pines were without power, down from 35,000 customers earlier in the day. Repair work continued until the evening of the day before the deadline.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.