Attacks at Pierce County substations motivated by robbery, not politics

Jan 4, 2023, 1:15 PM | Updated: Jan 11, 2023, 12:09 pm

Both men accused of the Christmas Day attack on power substations in Pierce County have been ordered held without bail by a U.S. District Court pending a grand jury indictment. (Photo from KIRO 7)

(Photo from KIRO 7)

A burglary, not a political statement, is why two Puyallup men damaged four electrical substations in Pierce County, causing thousands to lose power on Christmas.

The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, Nick Brown, said two men, 32-year-old Matthew Greenwood and 40-year-old Jeremy Crahan, were arrested Saturday in connection with the Christmas weekend vandalism that knocked out power to thousands.

Two charged with attacks on four Pierce County power substations

“I don’t know exactly what was in the mind of these two individuals or how rational their thinking was about why they decided to do what they were doing,” Brown said. “Obviously, we were looking at the attacks themselves and the impact that they had, and really the danger that was created by attacking power stations in this area.”

Brown confirms that Greenwood and Crahan broke into at least one business during the power outages along with four substations around the county and ultimately caused damage that will cost about $3 million and three years to repair.

Surveillance video from a vandalized Pierce County electric station helped find the two suspects just arrested for the crime.

The two men were identified as possible suspects through the analysis of cell phone records, according to documents. At one of the substations, Tacoma Power captured images of one suspect and the image of a pick-up truck that appeared to be connected with the attack. A similar pick-up truck was connected to the defendants.

The documents said when authorities went to execute a search warrant on Greenwood, they found two short-barreled rifles, one with a homemade suppressor and another with no serial number. Given the photo included in the documents, it appears the rifles’ barrels were manually sawed off. Greenwood’s also facing a charge of possession of unregistered firearms.

Conspiracy to attack energy facilities is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Possession of an unregistered firearm is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

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Brown said it’s still being investigated if they had any political motives or ties to extremist groups. The FBI said domestic terrorists have been calling for attacks on U.S. infrastructure as a way to destabilize the government.

“This is obviously in the context of a much larger national problem of power stations and power facilities being attacked and vandalized and damaged across the country,” Brown said. “And that’s why we, along with the FBI and other law enforcement officials, are really focused on investigating these quickly and taking them very seriously. But I don’t want to speculate too much about whether there’s any connection between this incident and anything else.”

As is custom, the FBI isn’t revealing many details about ongoing investigations, but they have not linked the attacks here and the ones that happened earlier this year at substations in Oregon, Florida, and the Carolinas.

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Attacks at Pierce County substations motivated by robbery, not politics