Cell tower topples to the ground, destroyed in act of sabotage, Nebraska officials say

A cell tower was destroyed in an apparent act of sabotage in southern Nebraska, officials say.

The Furnas County Sheriff’s Office began investigating the downed tower on Saturday, March 4, and deputies arrived to find the structure completely toppled in a field south of the small town of Oxford, according to a sheriff’s office release.

“Preliminary findings indicated intentional damage to a guide wire anchor that resulted in complete structural failure of the tower causing it to fall,” the sheriff’s office said.

Verizon Wireless, the sheriff’s office, area firefighters and the local public school district all had equipment fixed to the tower, according to the release. Verizon has since put up a temporary tower “to provide limited cell phone coverage in the area.”

Officials estimated the cost of the damage to be $575,000.

Verizon Wireless, area first responders, and a local school district all had equipment on the tower, officials said.

Investigators with the Nebraska State Patrol were brought in to assist, the sheriff’s office said, adding that deputies are also seeking cellular data possibly captured by the tower before it was destroyed “in hopes of identifying a suspect or suspects.”

Investigators have reached out to the FBI, according to the release, and the bureau “is considering opening an investigation into the matter as an act of domestic terrorism.”

The FBI confirmed in an email to McClatchy News that it is assisting law enforcement in the investigation but declined to comment further.

Anyone with information related to the case is asked to contact the Furnas County Sheriff’s Office at 308-268-2245.

The incident comes as attacks on the nation’s infrastructure, and the US power grid in particular, are increasing. While motives vary and suspects are often never found, officials say domestic terror organizations and hate groups are the driving force behind the uptick in infrastructure attacks.

Oxford is roughly 230 miles southwest of Omaha.

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