Two suspects in an attempted attack on Baltimore's electric grid have been arrested, according to the U.S. Justice Department. Unsealed court documents show that Sarah Clendaniel of Maryland and Brandon Russell of Florida are racist extremists who allegedly wanted to "completely destroy" Baltimore by shutting down its grid.
NBC reported that Russell is the founder of a neo-Nazi group called Atomwaffen Division, which the Southern Poverty Law Center said is committed to bringing about the collapse of civilization.
He started communicating with an FBI informant about the attack in December soon after being released from prison.
“Together, we are using every legal means necessary to keep Marylanders safe and to disrupt hate-fueled violence,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron during a press conference on Monday. “When we are united, hate cannot win.”
This June 7, 2017, photo provided by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office shows Brandon Russell. A Maryland woman conspired with the Florida neo-Nazi leader to carry out an attack on several electrical substations in the Baltimore area, officials said Monday, Feb. 6, 2023. Sarah Beth Clendaniel, of Baltimore County, conspired with Russell, recently arrested in Florida, to disable the power grid by shooting out substations via “sniper attacks,” saying she wanted to “completely destroy this whole city,” according to a criminal complaint unsealed Monday. (Pinellas County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)
The arrests come amid a series of attempted attacks on power stations, as well as one successful one in North Carolina that cut power to 45,000 households. So far, no one has been arrested for that attack.
"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," said Exelon and Baltimore Gas and Electric in a statement. "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."