Two men have been charged in Washington state power substation attacks that left tens of thousands without power on Christmas Day
Matthew Greenwood, 32, and Jeremy Crahan, 40 were arrested on Dec 31
They told investigators they shut down region’s power, caused $3 million in damages all to steal a cash register
The overnight attacks on the Pierce County substations cut out power to customers during the holidays
The attacks left over 14,000 people without power on Christmas Day and caused about $3 million in damages
After cutting off power to the area, the men drilled a hole in the lock of a business and stole its cash register
The two have been charged with been charged with conspiracy to damage energy facilities and possession of an unregistered firearm
Conspiracy charge is punishable by up to 20 years, and possession of an unregistered firearm up to 10 years in prison
Two men have been charged in attacks at four Washington state power substations that left 14,000 people with no power on Christmas Day.
The electrical substations in Washington state were vandalized, cutting power to 14,000 people, just two weeks after seven substations across America were deliberately sabotaged
The two suspects told investigators that their plan was all in order to steal a cash register at a local business, according to the criminal complaint filed Saturday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington at Tacoma.
That act of vandalism by Matthew Greenwood and Jeremy Crahan subjected people to a cold and dark holiday weekend – After cutting off power to the area, the men drilled a hole in the lock of a business and stole its cash register.
The overnight attacks on the Pierce County substations cut out power to customers during the holidays and caused about $3 million in damages.
Greenwood, 32, and Crahan, 40, the two suspects who were arrested Saturday, December 31, and have been charged with conspiracy to damage energy facilities and possession of an unregistered firearm.
Conspiracy to attack substations is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Possession of an unregistered firearm is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
The four substations that were targeted were the Graham and Elk Plain substations and the Kapowsin and Hemlock substations.
Crahan and Greenwood face up to 20 years in prison for the conspiracy charge and 10 years for possession of an unregistered firearm.
According to one local outlet, prosecutors are planning to ask for the two men to remain detained at the Federal Detention Center.
The men were first identified as potential suspects through cellphone records and surveillance video, according to U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, Nick Brown.
Photos taken of the accused at one of the Tacoma Power substations show a pickup truck and one man at the scene. A similar truck was connected to the incidents.
Officials also said distinctive clothing worn by the suspects was found during a search.
While searching, agents also found two unregistered short-barreled guns.
One of the guns seized was equipped with a makeshift silencer.
Crahan and Greenwood are set to appear in the U.S. District Court in Tacoma Tuesday.
Further charges may be pending.
Last week, one law enforcement official claimed those who carried out the attack may have been trying to ‘send a message.’
The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said the agency was investigating the incidents.
‘We can’t confirm that,’ department spokesman Sgt. Darren Moss said, of the potential motive.
‘But obviously, we are going to look at it that way. Four of them in one day. On Christmas Day. That screams, “I want to make a point.” What point do they want to make? I don’t know.’
Law enforcement was first alerted to the attacks after a worker tipped them off about ‘a burglary’ at one of the substations.
Deputies found evidence of forced entry and damaged equipment, but nothing had been taken from the facility.
Just hours after the first call came in, deputies were called to the second substation for another report of a burglary.
Deputies investigated the third and fourth break-ins around the same time, also with nothing taken but equipment damaged.
Prior to the arrest of Crahan and Greenwood, officials called the incident ‘intentional’ and ‘criminal.’
‘It was a person who chose to disrupt so many people’s livelihood on a wonderful holiday,’ Joe Wilson of Tacoma Power told Fox13 Seattle.
A fire at one of the substations knocked out power to residents in the nearby communities of Kapowsin and Graham, which have a combined total population of 37,000.
Most of those impacted by the outages were situated in southeast Tacoma.
Power was eventually restored to most customers by noon, but many went the entire day in the dark and cold from the acts.
Nearly 8,000 customers in Puget had their power restored by 5am, officials said.
In recent weeks, there have been eight attacks on power stations in Washington and Oregon.
The attacks were preceded by a warning from federal law enforcement of a threat to the local electrical grid.
The Tacoma Public Utilities did not describe the specific nature of the attack, aside from a tentative time frame over the Christmas weekend.
Deputies in previous weeks have been hesitant to label the attacks as domestic terrorism without suspects having been named.
Many, however, believe that is the case.
There has a been a trend of attacks on electrical substations across the Northwest and the United States. In early December, before the Christmas attacks, KUOW and Oregon Public Broadcasting reported that the electrical grid across Washington and Oregon had been attacked at least six times by unknown individuals, sometimes using firearms to knock out power.
The attacks started in mid-November.
In December, Washington state law enforcement sources said they received a memo from the FBI warning them about possible attacks in the area.
Before the Washington attacks, North Carolina experienced a grid attack potentially triggered by opponents of a drag show.
The shooting attack took place in the small town of Southern Pines on December 3 and took out power to more than 40,000 residents.
The Department of Homeland Security officials has warned that extremists have harbored ‘credible, specific plans to attack electricity infrastructure since at least 2020.’