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‘What point do they want to make?’ Saboteurs who took down FOUR electrical substations within 14 miles in Washington state – leaving 30,000 without power on Christmas Day – are ‘sending a message’, claims top cop

  • Police in western Washington believe vandals wanted to ‘send a message’
  • Incidents are the latest in series some believe to be work of terrorists 
  • Sgt. Darren Moss says they’re investigating as if done by one person or group 
  • Authorities have yet to publicly identify a cause or suspects in the attacks 

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Police in western Washington believe that vandals who attacked four power substations in western Washington on Christmas Day, leaving more than 14,000 without power, were trying to ‘send a message.’

The incidents were the latest of a series of similar attacks that some believe is the work of right-wing terrorists.

Sergeant Darren Moss, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, said they are investigating the attacks as if they were done by either one person or a connected group.

‘We can’t confirm that,’ he said. ‘But obviously, we are going to look at it that way. Four of them in one day. On Christmas Day. That screams, ‘I want to make a point.’ What point do they want to make? I don’t know.’

Police in western Washington believe that vandals who attacked four power substations in western Washington on Christmas Day, leaving more than 14,000 without power, were trying to ‘send a message’

Authorities have yet to publicly identify a cause or suspects in the attacks, nor have they announced the extent of the damage done, according to the Seattle Times

Residents have also given conflicting accounts of hearing gunshots in the lead-up to the incidents. 

Gary Moore, who lives across from the Puget Sound Energy substation, didn’t hear any shots ring out.

However, Eva Robinett, who lives less than a mile from the Spanaway substation, said her husband was among those who did. 

Deputies became aware of the attacks after a call from a worker at a substation where officers were tipped off about ‘a burglary’. Investigators arrived and saw signs of ‘forced entry’ but nothing taken. Equipment had been damaged, spurring the mass outages. 

A few hours later, officers received another call – from another plant a few miles away also reporting a burglary. Again, nothing was taken from the site. A third and fourth plant in the vicinity quickly reported the same, with photos showing a fenced area at one site cut. At the other, deputies found the station set on fire.

Deputies are investigating the break-ins, which officials – including the head of Tacoma’s power grid – are slamming as ‘intentional’ and ‘criminal’. 

Sergeant Darren Moss, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, said they are investigating the attacks as if they were done by either one person or a connected group

Sergeant Darren Moss, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, said they are investigating the attacks as if they were done by either one person or a connected group

The electrical substations in Washington state were vandalized - cutting power to 14,000 people - just two weeks after seven across America were deliberately sabotaged

The electrical substations in Washington state were vandalized – cutting power to 14,000 people – just two weeks after seven across America were deliberately sabotaged

A Tacoma Power crew works at an electrical substation damaged by vandals early on Christmas morning. They cut a padlock to gain entry, according to a crew manager

A Tacoma Power crew works at an electrical substation damaged by vandals early on Christmas morning. They cut a padlock to gain entry, according to a crew manager

Eight attacks targeting power plants have been recorded in Washington and nearby Oregon in recent weeks, leading to them coming under scrutiny by the FBI

Eight attacks targeting power plants have been recorded in Washington and nearby Oregon in recent weeks, leading to them coming under scrutiny by the FBI

‘It was a person who chose to disrupt so many people’s livelihood on a wonderful holiday,’ Joe Wilson of Tacoma Power told Fox13 Seattle Sunday, shortly after officials learned of the fourth attack, which happened later than the others at around 7pm.

The number of attacks in progressive states Washington and Oregon – eight – is particularly pronounced. 

The attacks were preceded by a warning from federal law enforcement of a threat to the local electrical grid.

The Tacoma Public Utilities – which oversees the attacked substations – did not describe the specific nature of the attack, aside from a tentative time frame of Sunday morning. 

Without a suspect, deputies have been hesitant to label the attacks as domestic terrorism. Although many, based on the context of the crimes, contend that is the case.

A Tacoma Power crew works at an electrical substation damaged by vandals early on Christmas morning

A Tacoma Power crew works at an electrical substation damaged by vandals early on Christmas morning 

Photos show a fenced area at one of the four sites targeted near Tacoma Sunday. The trope of attacking power infrastructure, one expert said after the attacks, 'is an old tenet of the American extreme right wing'

Photos show a fenced area at one of the four sites targeted near Tacoma Sunday. The trope of attacking power infrastructure, one expert said after the attacks, ‘is an old tenet of the American extreme right wing’

A Tacoma Power crew placed this new padlock at a substation gate after one that was cut off to break into the substation was taken away by law enforcement

A Tacoma Power crew placed this new padlock at a substation gate after one that was cut off to break into the substation was taken away by law enforcement

Earlier this month, Washington law enforcement sources said they received a memo from the FBI warning them about similar attacks to power stations in the Pacific Northwest.

Eight attacks targeting power plants have been recorded in Washington and nearby Oregon in recent weeks, leading to them coming under scrutiny by the FBI.

Joe Wilson of Tacoma Power criticized the perpetrators in an interview Sunday, saying they 'chose to disrupt so many people’s livelihood on a wonderful holiday'

Joe Wilson of Tacoma Power criticized the perpetrators in an interview Sunday, saying they ‘chose to disrupt so many people’s livelihood on a wonderful holiday’

An attack earlier this month in North Carolina prompted the bureau to say that it was investigating if the grid attack was triggered by opponents of a drag show in the small town of Southern Pines.

The Department of Homeland Security officials has warned that extremists have harbored ‘credible, specific plans to attack electricity infrastructure since at least 2020.’ 

Others have argued that the US power grid – comprising over 7,300 plants and connecting more than 145 million Americans – needs better security to prevent such attacks. Ali Winston, a journalist who has spent years researching extremist groups, says they fit the criteria for domestic terrorism.

Most of the vandalism happened in the morning, but the fourth was not reported until later, at 7:20 pm in the evening - with officials arriving to the station, also operated on Puget, set on fire, which deputies say was set intentionally

Most of the vandalism happened in the morning, but the fourth was not reported until later, at 7:20 pm in the evening – with officials arriving to the station, also operated on Puget, set on fire, which deputies say was set intentionally

In all, the outages affected about 14,000 customers, with 7,700 situated southeast of Tacoma

In all, the outages affected about 14,000 customers, with 7,700 situated southeast of Tacoma

The trope of attacking power infrastructure, the electrical grid or critical infrastructure ‘is an old tenet of the American extreme right wing,’ Winston said Sunday. 

Officials released a bulletin warning of threats to power infrastructure following the December 3 attacks in which unknown actors shot up two power stations in Moore County, North Carolina, with guns, knocking out power to more than 40,000 homes. 

Tacoma Public Utilities first received the report of vandalism at about 5.30am Sunday at one substation, at 22312 46th Avenue E, followed by vandalism at the second, at 8820 224th Street E, the sheriff’s office said. 

A third incident was reported later in the morning, this time by Puget Sound Energy – which operates two of the stations. The substation at 10915 144th St E was targeted at 2.39am, cops said, which caused power outages to around 7,300 customers. 

Most of the vandalism happened in the morning, but the fourth was not reported until later, at 7.20pm. When officials arrived at the station, also operated on Puget, it was on fire. Deputies say the fire was set intentionally. 

This fire knocked out power to residents in nearby communities of Kapowsin and Graham, which have a combined population of 37,000.

Without a suspect, deputies have been hesitant to label the attacks as domestic terrorism, though, based on the context of the crimes, many, including journalist Ali Winston (pictured), contend that is the case

Without a suspect, deputies have been hesitant to label the attacks as domestic terrorism, though, based on the context of the crimes, many, including journalist Ali Winston (pictured), contend that is the case

In all, the outages affected about 14,000 customers, with 7,700 situated in an area southeast of Tacoma. 

While many were left without lights for the entire Christmas holiday, power officials, by noon, said they had restored power to all but 2,700 customers. All customers affected by the outages have since been restored power.

The nearly 8,000 Puget customers who lost power had it restored by 5am, spokesperson Andrew Padula said. 

The company is investigating, along with authorities, and declined to comment further, Padula said.

In all three cases, the sheriff’s office says someone forced their way into the fenced area surrounding the substations and damaged equipment to cause a power outage.

Officials have not said how the substations were damaged. No suspects are in custody and officials don’t know if it was a coordinated attack.

Oregon Public Broadcasting and KUOW-FM in Seattle reported earlier this month that Portland General Electric, the Bonneville Power Administration, Cowlitz County Public Utility District and Puget Sound Energy confirmed six separate attacks on electrical substations in Washington and Oregon in the previous weeks.

Gerald Tracy, the media engagement program manager at Puget Sound Energy said that he was unable to ‘comment on the incidents because they are both an ongoing investigation involving the FBI.’

A federal law enforcement memo revealed that the Pacific Northwest substations have described attacks using ‘handtools, arson, firearms, and metal chains possibly in response to an online call for attacks on critical infrastructure.’ 

‘In recent attacks, criminal actors bypassed security fences by cutting the fence links, lighting nearby fires, shooting equipment from a distance or throwing objects over the fence and on to equipment,’ read the memo.

While many were left without lights for the entire Christmas holiday, power officials, by noon, said they had restored power to all but 2,700 customers. All customers affected by the outages have since been restored power

While many were left without lights for the entire Christmas holiday, power officials, by noon, said they had restored power to all but 2,700 customers. All customers affected by the outages have since been restored power

Meanwhile, the FBI is investigating if the two attacks in North Carolina were intended to kill the power at a drag queen event.  

An LGBTQ nonprofit in North Carolina had set up a drag show at the Sunrise Theater in Southern Pines on Saturday night around the same time when the electric facilities were targeted with gunfire around 7pm. 

The incident led to officials declaring a state of emergency as about 32,000 southeastern residents were left without power.

Source: Daily Mail UK

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