North Carolina offers reward in arson at local Republican office

October 19, 2016 12:39 PM EDT

Views are seen of the damage caused in a firebomb attack on local offices of the North Carolina Republican Party in Hillsborough, North Carolina, U.S. October 17, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane


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By Colleen Jenkins

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Reuters) - North Carolina will pay up to $5,000 for tips leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the weekend arson and graffiti attack at a local Republican Party headquarters, the state's governor said on Wednesday.

Local, state and federal investigators are searching for suspects after they said a device commonly described as a Molotov cocktail was thrown through a window of the Orange County Republican Party headquarters in Hillsborough on Sunday.

The glass bottle containing a flammable liquid ignited inside the strip-mall office, burning furniture and campaign signs before extinguishing. A swastika and the message "Nazi Republicans leave town or else" were spray-painted on a nearby building.

"The firebombing of a local political headquarters was clearly an act of intimidation, and I'm going to do everything I can to find the individual or individuals who committed this assault on our democracy," Republican Governor Pat McCrory said in a statement announcing the reward money.

Investigators on Tuesday collected video from locations around the party office, according to a statement from Hillsborough, a town of about 6,400 people located 40 miles (65 km) from the state capital of Raleigh.

Evidence from the crime scene is being analyzed at the FBI's laboratory in Quantico, Virginia.

Mike Pence, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's running mate, called the incident an "attack on the American political system" during a visit to the scene Tuesday afternoon.

Pence urged voters to help provide accountability at polling places when Americans turn out for the Nov. 8 election.

However, Pence's remarks were well short of allegations by Trump in recent days that the race is being rigged against him at voting locations. Trump has provided no evidence for such assertions.

North Carolina's State Board of Elections said in a statement later on Tuesday that officials had taken steps to protect the safety of voters, observers and poll workers during the voting process. Early voting begins in the state on Thursday.

(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Frances Kerry)



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