Law enforcement agencies in Moore County, NC, are seeking approval for search warrants over the sabotage of power substations Saturday night that caused thousands of people to lose power for days.
Richard Maness, chief deputy of the Moore County Sheriff’s Office, told the Raleigh News & Observer detectives began drawing up the warrants as early as Sunday. Maness declined to provide specifics about people or property that sheriff’s detectives want to search.
Maness said the sheriff’s office hasn’t identified suspects. The search warrants are part of the effort to identify possible suspects.
“We’re looking at everybody from all walks of life who had the expertise and the knowledge of the electrical grid and what could disable it,” he said.
A recent federal law enforcement memo points to an online call to attack critical infrastructure as a possible catalyst for a spate of substation attacks last month in the Pacific Northwest, NewsNation reported.
“In recent attacks, criminal actors bypassed security by cutting the fence links, lighting nearby fires, shooting equipment from a distance or throwing objects over the fence and onto equipment,” the memo said, according to NewsNation.
At least four substations in Oregon and Washington were damaged, prompting the FBI to investigate, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
Rita Katz, founder and executive director of the SITE Intelligence Group, told Newsweek that the Moore County attack is consistent with the neo-Nazi messaging promulgated online.
"The sabotage against the North Carolina substation aligns perfectly with directives and methods seen in accelerationist neo-Nazi communities," she said, "which we at SITE have exhaustively reported on."
"If this was indeed a far-right terrorist attack, my worry is that it will serve as a proof of concept for other far-right extremists," Katz explained. "Immediately after the reports about the attacks, we at SITE saw such communities praise what happened in North Carolina and call for more, while sharing more directives about what to target and how to do so. Some have specifically suggested large cities."