Two arrested and charged for Christmas Day power substation attacks

TACOMA, Wash., January 4, 2022—Two Puyallup, Washington, men appeared in U.S. District Court in Tacoma yesterday charged with conspiracy to damage energy facilities and possession of an unregistered firearm, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown, in connection to four Pierce County power substation attacks on Christmas Day.  Matthew Greenwood, 32, and Jeremy Crahan, 40, were arrested Saturday, December 31, 2022, following a fast-moving investigation by the FBI.  Prosecutors will ask that both men remain detained at the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac pending future hearings.

“I commend the work by the FBI to quickly identify these suspects and disrupt any future attacks on the east Pierce County power grid,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. “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.”

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Locations of four substations attacked on December 25, 2022, provided to FBI by PSE. SOURCE: Court document.

“I am so thankful for how quickly and diligently our investigators and partners worked to bring this to a resolution,” said Richard A. Collodi, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Seattle field office. “This case took many of them away from their families during the holidays but through their efforts, we have two men in custody we believe to be responsible for all four power station attacks. This demonstrates the commitment by all levels of law enforcement to protect our infrastructure and hold those accountable who put our community in danger.”

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Suspect’s vehicle matching surveillance video from the Christmas Day power substation attacks. SOURCE: Court documents.

According to the criminal complaint filed with the court late Saturday, December 31, 2022, and unsealed yesterday, the two men were identified as possible suspects through the analysis of cell phone records.  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.  When law enforcement served a search warrant on the home of the suspects, they recovered distinctive clothing pictured in the surveillance photos.  Agents also seized two short-barreled firearms that had not been registered as required by law.  One of the firearms was equipped with a make-shift silencer. 

substation attacks
The seized two short-barreled firearms that had not been registered as required by law, one of which was equipped with a make-shift silencer. SOURCE: Court document.

The four substations that were targeted were the Graham and Elk Plain substations operated by Tacoma Power and the Kapowsin and Hemlock substations operated by Puget Sound Energy.  The damage to the Tacoma Power substations alone is estimated to be at least $3 million.

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Footage from Elk Plain substation provided to FBI by Tacoma Power of the two suspects in the Christmas Day power substation attacks. SOURCE: Court documents.

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

The charges contained in the criminal complaint are only allegations.  A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The FBI is investigating the case with assistance from the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), Tacoma Police Department, the Washington State Department of Corrections and the Federal Protective Service.

Assistant United States Attorneys Will Dreher, Stephen Hobbs, and Todd Greenberg all worked around the clock over the last week to obtain search warrants and arrest warrants to assist the FBI investigation.


SOURCE: Federal Bureau of Investigations press release

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