Federal Law Enforcement Memo Flags Washington, Oregon Substation Attacks Similar to North Carolina Power Attacks

A memo from the federal government warned that substations in Oregon and Washington recently suffered similar physical attacks to the gunfire targeted toward the power grid in Moore County, North Carolina. Tens of thousands continue to remain without electricity. 

The federal law enforcement memo warned, “Power stations in Oregon and Washington have reported physical attacks on substations using hand tools, arson, firearms, and metal chains possibly in response to an online call for attacks on critical infrastructure.”

According to the memo, the aim is “to cause widespread power failures with the potential impact of social disruption and violent anti-government criminal activity.”

It continued, “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 onto equipment.”

Sheriff’s deputies in Jones County, North Carolina, reported that on November 11, criminal vandalism caused 12,000 individuals to lose power for days. The investigation remains ongoing, although no suspects have been arrested or identified in the case. 

Duke Energy officials said the last customers would be returned online mid-week. The gunfire caused significant damage to equipment that needed replacing when gunfire erupted, according to the power company. New equipment has been delivered, and crews are testing and calibrating it to synchronize with the power grid. Company officials say power will come back in waves of a few thousand customers at a time. During the peak power outages over the weekend, around 45,000 customers did not have power. 

Schools in Moore County will remain closed Wednesday and Thursday. One resident death was reported, although it is unsure if it was related to the outages. Authorities have not yet named any suspects, made any arrests, or confirmed the motive concerning the shootings that targeted two substations in Moore County over the weekend. The FBI is assisting with the investigation. 

Men accused of plotting against power sources

Three men accused of plotting against power sources pled guilty to planning to use powerful rifles to shoot substations or power grids across the U.S. According to the FBI, the defendants were white supremacists who predicted the damage would cost the government millions of dollars, potentially causing civil unrest, a race war, and maybe another Great Depression. 

Jonathan Allen Frost of Indiana and Texas, Jackson Matthew Sawall of Wisconsin, and Christopher Brenner Cook of Ohio all pled guilty to conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. Federal law enforcement sources have warned of domestic terror threats to crucial infrastructure for years. 

In a recently released threat bulletin, the Department of Homeland Security warned of “targets of potential violence including public gatherings, faith-based institutions, the LGBTQI+ community, schools, racial and religious minorities, government facilities and personnel, U.S. critical infrastructure, the media, and perceived ideological opponents.”

In addition to the public, thousands of service members and their families stationed at Fort Bragg have been impacted by the outages in Moore County. Base leadership has worked to ensure servicemembers have flexibility in their schedules.