Two Arrested in Washington State Electrical Substations Attack: U.S. authorities announced Tuesday that two men have been detained and charged in connection with attacks on electrical substations in the state of Washington that left thousands without power over the holidays. One of the suspects allegedly told police that the attacks were carried out so they could break into a business and steal money.
Following their arrests on Saturday, Jeremy Crahan, 40, and Matthew Greenwood, 32, both of Puyallup, made their initial court appearances in U.S. District Court in Tacoma on Tuesday.
Both were accused of planning to harm energy facilities in a recently unsealed complaint, and Greenwood was charged with a short-barreled rifle and a short-barreled shotgun in his possession. According to the complaint, they were connected to the attacks on the four substations in Pierce County by cellphone location data and other evidence.
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More than 15,000 customers were without power due to the attacks on December 25. According to officials, the U.S. electricity infrastructure needs greater security after a significant outage in North Carolina last month that took days to fix.
The lawsuit claims that Greenwood admitted to the authorities that he and the other suspect knocked down power to break into a store and steal money from the register. The complaint did not mention the company by name.
In a news release, Seattle U.S. Attorney Nick Brown said, “We have observed an upsurge in acts like this in Western Washington and around the country and must handle each occurrence seriously.” “The Christmas day disruptions left hundreds in the dark and the cold and put some people who depend on electricity for medical devices in grave danger.”
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When contacted by email for comment on the case, the men’s attorneys who appeared on their behalf in federal court did not immediately respond. Crahan’s detention hearing is on Tuesday, while Greenwood’s is on Friday. They are being held in custody pending trial at the request of federal prosecutors.
The four substations targeted were the Tacoma Power-operated Graham and Elk Plain and Puget Sound Energy-operated Kapowsin and Hemlock substations. According to the complaint, Tacoma Power substation transformers would need to be replaced, and the damage would cost at least $3 million.
The complaint claims that the two struck the last substation, the Kapowsin substation, after crossing the other three early on Christmas Day. In each instance, they entered the buildings using bolt cutters and turned around switches to turn off the power. According to the allegation, their conduct causes arcing and sparking at the Kapowsin substation.
According to the complaint by FBI Special Agent Mark Tucher, Greenwood and Crahan were identified as suspects because location data indicated that smartphones associated with them were close to all four occurrences. They were seen by agents between December 27 and January 3, and they seemed to be living together in a Puyallup home, he said.
The complaint stated that the first and fourth attacks were separated by more than twelve hours, and “the substations are dispersed over dozens of miles. The attacks occurred early in the morning and in the evening. “This makes it at least improbable that someone would happen to be at all four locations at times they were each vandalized,” the author writes.
According to the complaint, Greenwood had two unlicensed short-barreled firearms when he was apprehended, and authorities also discovered that he had many items of clothing that matched those of one of the suspects in the surveillance photos. The maximum sentence for planning an attack on an energy facility is 20 years. Possession of an unregistered firearm carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence.
In prior attacks beginning in late November in Oregon and Washington, at least four electricity substations were the target. At least a few of the attacks involved the use of weapons, and some Oregon power consumers had brief service interruptions.
Two individuals broke past a fence enclosing a high-voltage substation in one of the attacks before shooting some pieces of machinery. In those incidents, Portland General Electric, the Bonneville Power Administration, and Puget Sound Energy, the affected utilities, claimed they were collaborating with the FBI.