More than 40,000 homes and businesses lost electrical power Saturday night in a central North Carolina county in what authorities suspect to be a coordinated attack.
The outage occurred the same night as a controversial drag show was scheduled in one of the county’s towns.
According to the Moore County Sheriff’s Office, the outages began a little after 7 p.m. Eastern Time. It wasn’t clear when power would be restored.
Officials said that there was evidence that the outage was caused by vandalism found at multiple substations and Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said that the incident is being investigated as a “criminal occurrence.”
Several substations across Moore County were reportedly shot up. https://t.co/x0DSi6LbTk
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) December 4, 2022
“As utility companies began responding to the different substations, evidence was discovered that indicated that intentional vandalism had occurred at multiple sites,” Fields said, according to WRAL-TV in Raleigh.
There is a major power outage in Moore County the power company is aware and is working on the issue. DO NOT call 911 to report an outage. ONLY call 911 to report a EMERGENCY
— Moore Public Safety (@moorecountyps) December 4, 2022
Duke Energy had almost 38,000 customers without power throughout the county, according to WRAL. Randolph Electric Membership Corp. had 3,000 customers without power in the southern part of the county, WRAL reported.
Jeff Brooks, a spokesman for Duke Energy, told WRAL that crews had discovered “multiple equipment failures” at several substations in the county.
“We are also investigating signs of potential vandalism related to the outages,” Brooks said, according to the station.
Brooks said the company was working to restore power and is cooperating with officials investigating the outage.
According to The Charlotte Observer, some on social media had reported hearing gunshots in the area at the time of the outage. Brooks was asked if there was a connection, but said he couldn’t confirm anything at this stage.
The “Downtown Divas” event at the Sunrise Theater started at 7 p.m., according to The Charlotte Observer. After the power went out, it continued until about 9 p.m. the Observer reported.
“I asked that everyone turn on their phone flashlights to illuminate the room,” headline act Naomi Dix said, according to the Observer. “I then led the crowd in singing Beyoncé’s ‘Halo.’”
One of the organizers of protests against the drag show, Emily Grace Rainey, published a post to her Facebook page after the outage began stating, “The power is out in Moore County and I know why.”
She then posted a second statement with a picture of the exterior of the darkened theater stating, “God will not be mocked.”
Late Saturday, she published another post stating that sheriff’s investigators had paid her a visit.
“The Moore County Sheriff’s Office just checked in. I welcomed them to my home,” she wrote.
“Sorry they wasted their time. I told them that God works in mysterious ways and is responsible for the outage. I used the opportunity to tell them about the immoral drag show and the blasphemies screamed by its supporters.
“God is chastising Moore County. I thanked them for coming and wished them a good night. Thankful for the LEOs service, as always.”
According to The Fayetteville Observer, the event was originally opened to all ages. However, the minimum age for the event was changed to 18 after protests that the show was exposing children to “adult entertainment.”
Sunrise Theater Executive Director Kevin Dietzel told the Observer in an article published Saturday that he disagreed with the age restrictions.
“It adds to the stigma that people in the drag community already feel,” Dietzel told the newspaper. “It adds fuel to the myth that the LGBTQ+ community is something that people need to keep their kids away from.”
Organizers of the drag show said that they have received multiple threats ahead of the Saturday event.
According to the Fayetteville Observer, a Southern Pines Christian school sent out a letter Nov. 21 calling for residents of the town to protest at the train station across from the theater.
“The LGBTQ forces are coming to Southern Pines and they are after our children,” the letter from Calvary Christian School administrators stated, the Observer reported. “This is their target audience to peddle their abomination.”
According to the Observer, on Nov. 18, the group requested a permit to protest the show, listing an expected turnout of about 100 on the application.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.