SEE IT: Two charged in Christmas substation attacks that left thousands without power

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Left: Surveillance footage provided to the FBI from Tacoma Power. Right: Matthew Greenwood was found with a short-barreled rifle with homemade silencer and a short-barreled shotgun. Courtesy of the Department of Justice

SEE IT: Two charged in Christmas substation attacks that left thousands without power

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Two men have been charged with conspiracy to damage energy facilities for a series of attacks on substations in Washington state that took place on Christmas Day.

On Dec. 31, Matthew Greenwood, 32, and Jeremy Crahan, 40, were arrested following an FBI investigation. The men are set to appear in a U.S. district court in Tacoma on Tuesday and are detained at the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac. Both men are residents of Puyallup, Washington.

Greenwood also faces a charge of possession of an unregistered firearm for two weapons in his trailer at the time of arrest. Greenwood possessed a short-barreled rifle with a homemade suppressor as well as a short-barreled shotgun.

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The charge of conspiracy to damage energy facilities is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, while possession of an unregistered firearm is punishable by 10.

“We have seen attacks such as these increase in Western Washington and throughout the country and must treat each incident seriously. The outages on Christmas left thousands in the dark and cold and put some who need power for medical devices at extreme risk,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown.

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The criminal complaint alleges that the men conspired to attack the Hemlock substation, the Elk Plain substation, the Graham substation, and the Kapowsin substation with the intent of significantly impairing the facilities’ abilities to provide power to consumers. The two affected providers were Tacoma Power and Puget Sound Energy. The cost of the damage to Tacoma Power alone is estimated to be up to $3 million.

The attacks on Christmas Day affected power for more than 14,000 people, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.

The FBI was able to use surveillance footage from the facilities to identify the suspects. It further used cellphone data to detect the devices that were in the vicinity of the attacks at the time. Using the phone numbers as well as connected email account data, the bureau had a better picture of the involved parties.

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In a statement to law enforcement following the arrest of the men, Greenwood admitted that they planned to disrupt power so that they could commit a burglary. Crahan was his getaway driver. He explained that while the power was out, they traveled to a local business and broke in to steal from the register.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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