A Republican party headquarters in North Carolina was firebombed and a nearby building was vandalized and those responsible were still on the loose, authorities said Sunday.
The Charlotte Observer reported that the inside of the Orange County Republican Party headquarters in Hillsborough was severely damaged from the attack Saturday and an adjacent building was marked with spray pained graffiti reading “Nazi Republicans get out of town or else.” No one was injured.
“The office itself is a total loss,” state GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse said. “The only thing important to us is that nobody was killed, and they very well could have been.”
He said Republican offices around the state were re-examining their security.
The walls over the multi-room office were covered in black char, and a couch against a wall had been burned down to its springs. Shattered glass covered the floor, and a melted campaign yard signs showed warped lettering. According toWNCN-TV, a bottle of flammable liquid was thrown through the front window of the office.
The violent act in the key battleground state was condemned by public figures across the political spectrum.
Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president said on Twitter that the attack “is horrific and unacceptable. Very grateful that everyone is safe.”
Republican nominee Donald Trump blamed the act on Democrats in a tweet and also he encouraged local Republicans, saying: “With you all the way, will never forget. Now we have to win. Proud of you all!”
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said in a tweet that the firebombing was “clearly an attack on Democracy.”
At a news conference, Woodhouse urged Republicans to respond peacefully by turning out to vote in November. He said he’d received messages of support from Democrats.
Orange County GOP chairman Daniel Ashley told reporters that no one had previously made violent threats against the office several miles from the town’s historic square. The GOP office is several doors down from a shuttered ice rink in what was once a frontier-themed amusement park that is now a retail complex known as The Shops at Daniel Boone.
Tom Stevens, mayor of the town about 40 miles northwest of Raleigh, said that it was fortunate the fire didn’t burn the office and other adjacent buildings that are decades old to the ground.
Stevens, a Democrat, said the act doesn’t represent the character of Orange County, which also includes 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 by a lopsided margin in the 2012 election.
“I’d like to believe we aspire to respect hearing differing views,” Stevens said in an interview. “This is very troubling.”
Stevens said he wasn’t aware of any leads on suspects. Police and officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were investigating.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.