A bottle full of flammable liquid was thrown through the window of the Orange County Republican Party headquarters overnight, according to a news release from the town of Hillsborough. Before burning out the material ignited and damaged the inside.
On Sunday afternoon, the walls of the multi-room office were covered in black char, and a couch against one wall had been burned down to its springs. Shattered glass covered the floor, and melted effort yard signs showed warped lettering.
The news release from authorities said an adjoining building was spray-painted with the words: “Nazi Republicans leave town or else.” The graffiti was covered in paint by late afternoon.
Another business owner found the damage Sunday morning. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is working with local investigators.
State GOP executive director Dallas Woodhouse said people occasionally work after hours, and he felt blessed that no one was there at the time. He said the bottle appeared to have landed on or near the couch where volunteers occasionally take naps.
“They are working around the clock. It truly is a wonder that nobody was killed,” he said in a interview, calling the fire “political terrorism.”
He said Republican offices around the state were reexamining their security.
Public figures condemned the violent action in the key battleground state across the political spectrum.
Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president said on Twitter the assault “is horrendous and unacceptable. Very thankful that everybody is safe.”
Republican nominee Donald Trump blamed the act on Democrats in a Tweet and also he supported local Republicans, saying: “With you all the way, will never forget. We have to win.
At a news conference, Woodhouse encouraged Republicans by turning out to vote in November to react calmly. He said he’d received messages of support.
Orange County GOP chairman Daniel Ashley told reporters that no one had previously made violent threats against the office several miles from the historical square of the town.
Tom Stevens, mayor of town of Raleigh, said that it was lucky the fire did not burn the office and other adjacent buildings that are decades old to the ground.
Stevens, a Democrat, said the act does not symbolize the character of Orange County, which additionally comprises much of Chapel Hill and the University of North Carolina campus. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 3-1 margin in the county that picked President Barack Obama in the 2012 election by a lopsided margin.
“I’d like to consider we aspire to value hearing differing perspectives,” Stevens said within an interview. “This is very troubling.”
Stevens said he wasn’t unaware of any leads on defendants.