WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Two people remained in federal custody on Tuesday in connection with an apparent racism-driven plot to attack Baltimore’s power grid.
Brandon Russell of Orlando, Fl. — a described neo-Nazi — and Sarah Clendaniel of Catonsville, Md. are the two accused of the plot. Federal authorities in Baltimore announced their arrests Monday.
“Well it was a little interesting and scary at the same time,” said former Baltimore City Prosecutor Debbie Hines on the failed plot to attack her city.
It’s something federal authorities say is becoming more common. According to Department of Energy statistics, human attacks were responsible for 83 “electric disturbance” incidents across 29 States in 2022.
“It’s what’s happening in the world,” Hines said. “So at that particular moment, it was what’s happening in Baltimore — but was targeted on a racial basis, a hate basis against residents of Baltimore because Baltimore is more than 60% Black residents.”
More than 45,000 homes and businesses around North Carolina lost power for several days last December in a similar attack.
Pepco operates a substation in D.C. The utility company said in an email that “protecting our electric grid infrastructure and ensuring its continued security, safety and reliability for our customers are our top priorities.”
They were not the only utility company that released a statement. Dominion Energy in Virginia said, “We maintain an ongoing focus and have invested in targeted initiatives to both protect our substations from physical and cyber threats.”
“It’s scary to think this could happen here,” said Hallie Angelo. “What happened here, the Capitol’s here, just making a statement. It is pretty terrifying when you think about it happening so close to you.”
Meanwhile, there have been mixed reactions around D.C. as to whether the district is prepared.
“I think the city of DC can do a pretty good job of preventing that from happening,” said Jake Schlinger.
Each of the suspects in the Baltimore case could spend up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted.