FBI says Baltimore County woman plotted to 'shoot up' BGE electric substations
A Baltimore County woman has been arrested on charges for allegedly plotting to destroy electric substations in the Baltimore region, federal authorities said during a press conference on Monday.
Sarah Beth Clendaniel was recorded detailing her plan to use firearms to destroy several Baltimore Gas and Electric substations with gunfire, according to the FBI.
Three of the five substations in question included Norrisville, Reisterstown and Perry Hall, according to The Baltimore Banner. The remaining two substations not explicitly identified were within Baltimore City limits, according to the criminal complaint.
“[It] would probably permanently completely lay this city to waste if we could do that successfully,” she allegedly said on Jan. 29, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Monday.
Brandon Clint Russell of Orlando, Florida and Clendaniel, of Catonsville, Maryland was charged with conspiracy to destroy an energy facility, according to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland office press release.
In 2017, Russell admitted to police that he subscribed to Neo-Nazi beliefs, according to the FBI criminal complaint.
Clendaniel is expected to appear today in the U.S. District Court of Baltimore.
Clendaniel said that she had a terminal illness 'related to her kidneys and was unlikely to live more than a few months', according to the criminal complaint.
If convicted, Russell and Clendaniel each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
"This planned attack threatened lives and would have left thousands of Marylanders in the cold and dark," said Erek Barron, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, the state's top prosecutor, on Monday.
"The threat posed by domestic violent extremists is evolving and persistent," said Thomas Sobocinski, special agent in charge of the FBI's Baltimore office in a press release.
Maryland Gov. Wes Moore lauded federal law enforcement on Monday afternoon.
“I want to commend the [FBI] and our state homeland security team for their swift action in preventing a potentially catastrophic attack on several of Maryland’s electrical substations," Moore said in a statement. "Our state and local law enforcement authorities are working in partnership with the [FBI] to assist with any follow-up investigative work they need."
The FBI notified Exelon and Baltimore Gas and Electric about the plan, the companies said in a press release on Monday.
"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," according to the statement. "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 companies asked anyone who 'sees suspicious activity' around electric equipment to call 1-800-225-5324.
In early December 2022, two electric substations owned by Duke Energy were attacked in North Carolina which knocked out power to 100,000 residents in Moore County.
Read a copy of the criminal complaint below.