Two men are in custody in Washington state. Police think they are the individuals responsible for a series of Christmas Day attacks on power stations that left more than 15,000 people in the Tacoma area without power.
40-year-old Jeremy Crahan and 32-year-old Matthew Greenwood were arrested on New Year’s Eve. The two men made their initial appearances in U.S. District Court in Tacoma on Tuesday. The Christmas Day attacks on four substations in Pierce County caused millions of dollars’ worth of damage.
According to recently unsealed court documents, police used cellphone location data to originally identify a pool of suspects. That’s when Greenwood and Crahan showed up on their radar. Surveillance video from one of the power stations caught one of the suspects, believed to be Greenwood, at the scene. Video also shows a pickup truck police believed to be the suspects.
When authorities took the two men into custody, a similar truck was found in their possession, along with clothes matching the surveillance video, and two unregistered, illegal firearms. According to court documents, Greenwood told investigators the men cut the power at the substations because they wanted to rob a nearby business. The business was not named in the complaint against the defendants.
Greenwood and Crahan are charged with conspiracy to damage an energy facility, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, and possession of an unregistered firearm, which could carry a 10-year sentence.
While it took just a week to make arrests in these attacks, authorities still haven’t made any arrests in connection to earlier attacks on substations in Washington, Oregon and North Carolina last year. Those attacks knocked out power to thousands and caused millions more in damages.
Security experts have warned for years about the vulnerability of the U.S. power grid. The Department of Homeland Security said neo-Nazi groups and other terrorist organizations believe they can bring about the collapse of society if enough substations are taken offline.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.