GOP office in N. Carolina opens after firebombing
Staff sets up tables outside building to resume work
HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. — Investigators combed through shards of glass, looked for residue of flammable accelerant and tried to narrow down the overnight hours when someone torched a local Republican Party office by throwing a flammable device through a window.
Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens said he wasn’t aware of any surveillance footage from the immediate vicinity, and the office sits where there wouldn’t normally be foot traffic late at night — in a decades-old retail complex that backs up to a wooded area and is set back from a main road.
A bottle filled with flammable liquid was thrown through a window of the Orange County Republican Party headquarters early Sunday, damaging the interior before burning out, according to authorities. Someone also spray-painted “Nazi Republicans leave town or else” on a nearby wall. The office was empty, and no one was injured.
Local party officials reopened a makeshift operation on folding tables outside the office Monday while uniformed police looked on. Plainclothes investigators looked for evidence at the scene as state, local and federal investigators divided up leads.
Thegraffiti and remnants of the fire were discovered Sunday morning by 68year-old Bobbie Sparrow, whose Balloons Above Orange shop is next to the GOP headquarters. She came to feed stray cats before church when she noticed the graffiti.
“I saw the hate in it. And The Orange County Republican headquarters in Hillsborough, N.C., was left charred after someone threw a bottle of flammable liquid through a window early Sunday. the only reason they used the side of my building, because it was a blank canvas for a message to the Republican Party people,” she said. “I picked up my cellphone and called 911 and told them someone needed to get here immediately.”
Lost in the fire were 2,000 sample ballots for local Republicans, dozens of yard signs that were melted and banners for events that were ruined by soot, said county GOP Chairman Daniel Ashley.
The violent act in the key battleground state has been condemned by public figures across the political spectrum.
Atweet from Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on Sunday said the attack “is horrific and unacceptable. Very grateful that everyone is safe.”
Anhour later, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump tweeted: “Animals representing Hillary Clinton and Dems in North Carolina just firebombed our office in Orange County because we are winning.”
North Carolina’s Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and his Democratic challenger, state Attorney General Roy Cooper, both described the violence as a threat to democracy.
Democrats joined a campaign to raise $10,000 to reopen the GOP office, meeting the goal in less than 40 minutes and “showing that Americans are thirsty for civility and decency,” wrote the GoFundMe drive’s creator, David Weinberger, a researcher at Harvard University.
“It’s a great gesture. We appreciate it a lot, but I don’t know how much of that we’re going to get to use because of the campaign laws,” Ashley said.
Republican offices around the state are reexamining their security, state GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse said.
Stevens, mayor of the town about 40 miles northwest of Raleigh, said the act doesn’t represent the character of Orange County, which also includes Chapel Hill and the University of North Carolina campus. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 3-1 in the county.
Blake Halsey, a 21-yearold college student who volunteers at the Orange County GOP office, answered calls Monday at a folding table outside the shattered front window. He grew up in the area and described the town as a “melting pot” for all political views.