An individual opened fire near a Duke Energy facility at Wateree Hydro Station in Ridgeway, South Carolina on Wednesday, CBS News has learned.
According to multiple sources, the individual pulled up in a truck outside the facility around 5:30 p.m. ET before opening fire, using what appeared to be a long gun, and then shooting. rush away. Several Duke Energy employees witnessed the event. No one was hurt. It was not immediately known how many people were in the truck.
A law enforcement official confirmed to CBS News that shots were apparently fired. In a statement to CBS News, Duke Energy said it was working “closely” with the FBI to investigate the matter.
“We are aware of reports of gunshots near the Wateree hydroelectric station at Ridgeway,” a Duke Energy spokesperson told CBS News. “No one was injured. No outages were reported. There is no known property damage at this time. We are working closely with the FBI on this matter.”
On Wednesday, Kershaw County Sheriff Lee Boan told CBS affiliate WLTX-TV, “We take this seriously.” According to the sheriff, initial reports indicated that an individual had opened fire near the trees bordering the power plant. It was not immediately clear if the facility itself was targeted.
Ridgeway, South Carolina is a small town of about 400 people located across state lines and about 150 miles southwest of Moore County. The hydroelectric plant, which has been producing electricity for more than a century, is located outside municipal boundaries.
The shooting comes just days after a “deliberate” attack, in which gunfire damaged two Duke Energy electrical substations, causing a widespread power outage in Moore County, North Carolina. It remains unclear whether the Moore County outage and Wednesday’s shooting are related.
Officers from the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to investigate the incident with the assistance of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), according to WLTX.
The Department of Energy has been notified of the incident.
“The Department of Energy takes the security of our nation’s electric grid seriously, and we are working closely with industry to identify and address evolving threats to the grid,” the Secretary of State said. ‘Energy, Jennifer Granholm, in a statement to CBS News. “As power is restored to North Carolina, we will continue to work with law enforcement on this incident and any other threats to critical energy infrastructure. Those who commit these crimes against critical energy infrastructure in our nation will be held accountable.”
In January, a Department of Homeland Security bulletin, obtained by CBS News, warned that domestic violent extremists “have developed credible and specific plans to attack electrical infrastructure since at least 2020, identifying the electrical grid as a particular target. attractive”. The ministry has not issued any guidelines linking this week’s incidents to extremism. Speaking about the power outage in Moore County, North Carolina, the secretary said Monday that the attack “appears to have been deliberate.”
“We are working with energy companies in local communities to address the situation that is affecting electricity reaching homes in targeted neighborhoods,” DHS Secretary Mayorkas said at an event in Washington. , DC. “The question is whether it was an act of malfeasance or otherwise. “Early evidence suggests it was deliberate. And the investigation is ongoing.”
“The utility industry has a real problem on its hands,” said Brian Harrell, former assistant secretary for infrastructure protection at DHS. “Power plants are an attractive target and domestic terrorist groups know that destroying this infrastructure can have a crippling effect on industry, citizens and local governments.”
The FBI continues to seek information about the person or persons it believes vandalized two Moore County electrical substations, knocking out the lights of 45,000 people.
The FBI did not immediately respond to a CBS News request for comment.
Chris St. Peter and Pat Milton contributed to this report.