Shortly after 7 p.m. on Saturday night in Moore County, N.C., the lights began to go out, and there was a total loss of power to about 45,000 residents. The initial investigation by local and county police revealed that two electric power stations had been deliberately targeted by what appeared to be gunfire.

The FBI was called in, and the investigation by local, state, and federal law enforcement intensified.

A news conference by Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields on Monday revealed little new information, but the sheriff suggested that the act of vandalism may have been more than kids creating mischief. He called the attacks “targeted” and said they were carried out by a person or persons who “knew exactly what they were doing.”

For a while, it appeared the officials were going to blame opponents of a small drag show that was being performed in downtown Southern Pines who demonstrated in front of the theater. The drag show was underway when the power went out, and one of the organizers of the demonstration received a visit from Sheriff Fields for a Facebook post that suggested she knew what caused the outage.

News & Observer:

Emily Grace Rainey, an outspoken opponent of the drag show, posted an invitation on her Facebook page to the protest at the theater. After the lights went out, Rainey, who became known in Moore County during the pandemic for her opposition to mask mandates, posted on Facebook that, “The power is out in Moore County and I know why.”

Without naming her, Fields indicated in Sunday’s press conference that the information Rainey posted online was “false.” He said officers “had to go and interview this young lady and have a word of prayer with her, but it turned out to be nothing.” Fields confirmed on Facebook that the Moore County Sheriff’s Office had come to her house to ask about the outage.

“Sorry they wasted their time,” Rainey wrote. “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.” Rainey said, “I told them God is chastising Moore County, thanked them for coming, and wished them a good night. Thankful for the LEOs service, as always.”

Mrs. Rainey, a former U.S. Army PsyOps officer, has gained considerable notoriety in Moore County, having taken a busful of people to the Jan. 6, 2021, Donald Trump rally on the Ellipse and loudly bucked COVID-19 restrictions, including being arrested for tearing down “caution” tape at a local playground to allow her child to play during the pandemic.

She is also an acquaintance of Sheriff Fields.

Asked how deputies had determined Rainey’s posts were false, Fields said it was due to “good law enforcement,” without elaborating.

Maness told Newsweek that the investigation “is ongoing and no person has been completely cleared nor implicated.”

He said: “Our investigators are contacting multiple persons based on tips and evidence as they present themselves. Ms. Rainey was interviewed based on her careless choice of words posted on social media.”

However, the photo of Fields with Rainey at a 2020 event circulated on social media, prompting some to suggest the sheriff was quick to clear Rainey because of a personal relationship and call for the FBI to investigate.

The photo was taken during a Back the Red, White and Blue event in October 2020 that was organized by Moore County Citizens for Freedom, a group “dedicated to the promotion of conservative values” that Rainey founded in May 2020, according to the LinkedIn page.

Sheriff Fields sort of forgot to mention during the news conference that he knew Mrs. Rainey.

This is not to suggest that Rainey or Fields is involved in a plot to destroy the power stations. But it points to slovenly police work by local and county officials that is probably hampering the FBI’s investigation into who carried out the attack.

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