WASHINGTON, D.C. — A GOP office in Hillsborough, North Carolina, was firebombed over the weekend, with a swastika and the words “Nazi Republicans get out of town or else” spray painted on an adjacent building, according to local officials.
“The flammable substance appears to have ignited inside the building, burned some furniture and damaged the building’s interior before going out. The substance was housed in a bottle thrown through one of the building’s front windows,” according to a statement by the town of Hillsborough.
The Hillsborough Police Department said in a statement Monday that it was still processing evidence from the scene and that it was receiving assistance from the FBI, North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
A bottle of flammable liquid was thrown through the Orange County Republican headquarters, police said.
“This highly disturbing act goes far beyond vandalizing property; it willfully threatens our community’s safety via fire, and its hateful message undermines decency, respect and integrity in civic participation,” Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens said in a statement.
“I believe I speak for the overwhelming majority of people who make Hillsborough their home: Acts like this have no place in our community,” he said. “Our law enforcement officials are responding quickly and thoroughly to investigate this reprehensible act and prosecute the perpetrators.”
North Carolina is a key swing state in the presidential election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Early Sunday evening the Clinton campaign tweeted a note of sympathy.
“The attack on the Orange County HQ @NCGOP office is horrific and unacceptable. Very grateful that everyone is safe.”
The North Carolina Republican Party tweeted its appreciation in response.
“Thank you for your thoughts & prayers, Sec. @HillaryClinton.”
“The office itself is a total loss,” Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the state Republican Party, told The Charlotte Observer. “The only thing important to us is that nobody was killed, and they very well could have been.”
The weekend firebombing episode become fodder for claims by Trump that the election is “rigged” in Clinton’s favor, reflecting the intensity surrounding of the campaign in the final weeks of the race. In the evening, Trump — without evidence — blamed the firebombing on Clinton supporters.
“Animals representing Hillary Clinton and Dems in North Carolina just firebombed our office in Orange County because we are winning @NCGOP,” Trump tweeted Sunday night.
Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the North Carolina Republican party, told CNN’s John Berman and Kate Bolduan that roughly 80 county GOP offices were told to close early Sunday, and a temporary mobile office was erected in Orange County, near the site of the firebombing.
A group of Democrats have started a GoFundMe fundraising page to help with rebuilding the office. The campaign has currently accumulated more than $13,000.
“We’ve had a lot of people reach out. We’ve had a lot of people who aren’t political who are at the office volunteering,” Woodhouse said. “We have heard from some Democrat groups. I agree with both Ms. Clinton and Mr. Trump that these were animals who did this, no matter who they represent, and it’s disgusting and unacceptable.