Attack on grid: Reward for perp is in the works

Update: A $75,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of suspect(s).

North Carolina Rep. Tom McInnis said a reward leading to the arrest of individuals responsible for the attacks on the electrical grid system is in the works. He made the statement during the Dec. 6 press conference at the Rick Rhyne Public Safety Center in Carthage.

Officials responded to a number of power substations across Moore County after a widespread power outage occurred on Saturday evening that left at least 45,000 customers without power.

Two substations, in Carthage and West End, were damaged by gunfire.

“It is a process,” McInnis told Sandhills Sentinel when their journalist asked why a reward had not yet been offered and stated money was an incentive for information.

The sheriff department’s anonymous tip-line is thoroughly investigated each day by the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The tip-line number is (910) 947-4444.

Funds for the reward stem from the governor.

McInnis said the general assembly was looking at legislation to update crimes and penalties, so the punishment will fit the crime.

Sandhills Sentinel asked if the attack on the electrical grid system was labeled a terrorist attack, and Moore County Public Safety Director Bryan Phillips said the definition of the attack would be labeled by the FBI in the coming days. Phillips did not know if it would be by the end of the week.

Sandhills Sentinel asked if the elderly man’s death in his home, discovered Tuesday, without power, would be a murder charge when a suspect is arrested.

Phillips said the FBI would make that determination.

Dr. Tim Locklear, superintendent for Moore County Schools, said the schools were closed to students Dec. 7 and 8. Schools are open to staff on Dec. 8. Locklear hopes to resume classes Dec. 9.

Chief Deputy Richard Maness, with the Moore County Sheriff’s Department, said the tip-line for the perpetrator has been active. He said there have been 655 calls to report power outage issues, and 115 calls responded to for suspicious activity, and business and home welfare.

There is a boil-water advisory for Taylortown until 6 p.m. Dec. 6.

The curfew is still in effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Jeff Brooks with Duke Energy said crews worked hard to restore power to 10,000 customers. Brooks said the power may return Wednesday in phases as the crew synchronizes with the electrical grid, and that it is a manual process.

Duke Energy contributed $100,000 in charity to the area Red Cross, United Way, Moore Family Resources, and the Sandhills Coalition.

Brooks said the compassion shown to the crews has been overwhelmingly generous.

Randolph Electric Membership Corporation CEO Dale Lambert said they had 2,600 members in Moore County impacted by the attack on the grid.

Lambert thanked the North Carolina Department of Transportation for closing a road to allow the crews to “roll power up” from a two-decades old inactive power line near Seven Lakes. The closed road sped service repairs to restore power to everyone in the area by 4 a.m. Dec. 6.

Lambert said he had not witnessed such neighborly grace as in Moore County. People from 40 miles away called to ask if conserving their energy would help those without power.

Moore County Manager Wayne Vest echoed the population’s selfless spirit.

“Offers for assistance were as much as requests for help,” Vest said.

Feature photo: North Carolina Rep. Tim McInnis says a reward leading to the arrest of individuals responsible for attacks on the electrical grid system is in the works on Dec. 6, 2022 at the press conference at the Carthage Sheriff Department.

~Article and photo by Sandhills Sentinel Journalist Stephanie M. Sellers. Contract her at [email protected]

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