Four years later, still no leads on Orange County GOP firebombing

Photo via A.P. Dillon

HILLSBOROUGH — Four years after the Orange County GOP office was firebombed and vandalized with spray paint, there are still no suspects or convictions in the case.

The attack took place on Oct. 16, 2016, caused extensive smoke and fire damage to the interior of the building and to the property inside, including campaign signs and other items. The source of the fire was a Molotov cocktail thrown through one of the windows of the building.

On the side of the building, graffiti covered the wall which read, “Nazi Republicans” and “leave town or else.” A swastika was also sprayed on the side of the building.  No one was injured as the attack came at a time when the office was closed.

When news of the attack broke, then-candidate Donald Trump tweeted, “Animals representing Hillary Clinton and Dems in North Carolina just firebombed our office in Orange County because we are winning @NCGOP.”

Waddy Davis was the chairman of the Orange County Republican Party at the time of the attack and continues to serve in that role today. At the time, he said the firebombing was “not just an attack on Orange County; it was an attack on democracy.” Davis, who is a retired US Army Special Forces colonel, still believes that to be true.

“I consider this bombing nothing short of an act of domestic terrorism by anarchists to intimidate and disrupt the conservative election process,” Davis wrote in a statement on the anniversary of the attack.

“Having spent three years in Afghanistan in a war zone, it was a shock to return home and see this type of destruction in our backyard and our country. This attack strikes at the very fabric of American democracy,” said Davis.

Davis went on to say that the country has witnessed more “acts of anarchy” in the last year, such as the “burning, looting, shooting, and beatings in American cities, often led by Antifa groups.”

“We need to come together as a community of citizens in spite of political differences in a peaceful way,” Davis said.

The FBI initially identified a vehicle that drove into the Daniel Boone shopping center, where the Orange County GOP’s office was located, at “approximately 2:55 a.m. on October 16, 2016.” A press release by the FBI said that the timing of the car entering the area was consistent with witness testimony about when the fire was started.

Some of the graffiti was similar to another act of vandalism in the Carrboro area in 2015. According to the FBI, the victim in that case was “an outspoken activist” who may have been targeted by the same person or persons who committed the arson at the Orange County GOP office.

Nine months after the bombing, a grand jury was convened which subpoenaed a self-described anarchist and social worker named Katie Yow to appear on July 31, 2017. Yow had previously been employed as a high school librarian and an elementary school teacher.

“While many things about what will happen next are developing and uncertain, one thing is absolutely clear: I will never comply with this or any subpoena,” said Yow in a statement she released after being subpoenaed. A longer statement by Yow was published on the website “NC Resists The Grand Jury.”

Yow, who was 31 years old at the time, stated in a speech on the courthouse steps that she intended to “resist the grand jury subpoena.” She made good on her promise and refused to testify.

The Orange County GOP firebombing is a “domestic terrorist act” and remains an active investigation, Davis told North State Journal. There is still a $20,000 reward for information that leads to solving the crime, $10,000 of which has been provided by the FBI. Anyone with information is urged to call the FBI office in Charlotte at 704-672-6100.

About A.P. Dillon 1287 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_