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Schools will stay closed today after gunfire knocked out power in North Carolina


People in Moore County, N.C., spent the night under curfew, and school today is canceled after an attack on the power grid. One or more people shot up electrical substations and knocked out power to more than 45,000 homes and businesses. Here's Nick de la Canal of our member station WFAE.

NICK DE LA CANAL, BYLINE: The outage began Saturday night. It started in the small town of Carthage and quickly spread across the county, about 90 miles east of Charlotte. In the town of Southern Pines, traffic lights stopped working, and police reported multiple car wrecks, as well as a flurry of calls from triggered alarms and reports of break-ins. Some residents also reported slow cell service.


RONNIE FIELDS: We faced something last night here in Moore County that we've never faced before.

DE LA CANAL: At a news conference Sunday, Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said law enforcement had opened a criminal investigation. He said a person or group of people had driven to two electrical substations and opened fire on the equipment, knocking out power to almost the entire county.


FIELDS: The person that done this or the persons knew exactly what they were doing, absolutely.

DE LA CANAL: He said a motive remained unclear. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper tweeted, an attack like this on critical infrastructure is a serious intentional crime, and he expects state and federal authorities to bring those responsible to justice. Jeff Brooks, a spokesman for Duke Energy, said the damage from the shootings could take days to fix.


JEFF BROOKS: We are looking at a pretty sophisticated repair, some fairly large equipment, and so we do want citizens of the town to be prepared that this will be a multiday restoration for most customers.

DE LA CANAL: County officials imposed the nighttime curfew because it wasn't safe to travel and canceled school today. The county also opened a shelter for residents, as temperatures dropped near freezing. The power utility says it could take until Thursday before most residents see their power restored.

For NPR News, I'm Nick de la Canal in Charlotte. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Nick de la Canal
WFAE's Nick de la Canal can be heard on public radio airwaves across the Charlotte region, bringing listeners the latest in local and regional news updates. He's been a part of the WFAE newsroom since 2013, when he began as an intern. His reporting helped the station earn an Edward R. Murrow award for breaking news coverage following the Keith Scott shooting and protests in September 2016. More recently, he's been reporting on food, culture, transportation, immigration, and even the paranormal on the FAQ City podcast. He grew up in Charlotte, graduated from Myers Park High, and received his degree in journalism from Emerson College in Boston. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal