Business, Crime, Police/Fire

Two arrested in plot to attack Baltimore’s power grid, including Perry Hall substation

UPDATE 2: Russell and Clendaniel have both been indicted.

UPDATE: This story has been updated with a statement from BGE and Exelon.

Original story below…


BALTIMORE, MD—Two people have been arrested after authorities said they planned to carry out an attack on Baltimore’s power grid.

Federal authorities on Monday announced that the FBI had captured two suspects before they could launch a planned attack on Baltimore power stations.

The suspects, Brandon Russell and Sarah Clendaniel, were taken into custody last week, one in Maryland and the other in Florida, according to NBC News.

Russell is a founder of the Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi group bent on “ushering in the collapse of civilization,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The group admires Charles Manson and supports “the idea of lone wolf violence,” according to the Anti-Defamation League.

The suspects “conspired and took steps to shoot multiple electrical substations in the Baltimore area, aiming to quote, ‘completely destroy this whole city,'” said Erek L. Barron, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland.

Thomas J. Sobocinski with the FBI’s Baltimore field office said the suspects were serious in their efforts aimed at paralyzing the city of 580,000.

In her own words, Clendaniel, who is from Catonsville, said the attack “would lay this city to waste,” according to WJZ.

Clendaniel was allegedly recorded telling an FBI informant her plans to shoot energy substations in Norrisville, Reisterstown, and Perry Hall.

WJZ reports that Russell, who is from Orlando, FL, was sentenced to five years in federal prison in 2018 for charges associated with having explosives in his apartment’s garage.

Exelon and BGE officials have released the following statement:

“The Federal Bureau of Investigation has notified Exelon and BGE that it has disrupted a plot to target several BGE electric substations with gunfire. We are working closely with the FBI and state and local law enforcement as they continue their investigation, and we are thankful for their vigilance and the precautions taken to protect the electric grid for our customers and employees. Law enforcement acted before the perpetrators were able to carry out their plan, and there was no damage to any of the substations, nor was any service disrupted. The substations are not believed to have been targeted out of any connection to BGE or Exelon, or because of any particular vulnerability. We have a long-standing partnership with law enforcement and state and federal regulators of the grid to secure critical infrastructure; this work is even more important now as threats have increased in recent years. There are no currently known threats to any of our facilities.

“We hold the safety of our employees and the safety and security of our customers and communities as top priorities. In the last decade, we have increased our level of investment on grid hardening capital projects, and monitoring and surveillance technologies to work to prevent both physical and cyber-attacks. We remain focused on improving the resiliency of the grid by stocking critical back-up equipment while designing a smarter grid that isolates damage and routes power around it.

“Due to the ongoing investigation, we cannot provide additional comment, and we refer any additional questions to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland. We ask anyone who sees any suspicious activity around energy equipment or facilities to immediately call 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324).

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