Escalante resident indicted for shooting power substation

Composite image, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – An Escalante man has been indicted by a federal grand jury for shooting and damaging a Garkane Energy Cooperative substation.

The incident knocked out power to thousands of Kane and Garfield county residents and businesses for several hours Sept. 25, 2016.

Read more: Thousands lose power after vandal shoots up transformer

A few days later, Garkane announced a reward of $50,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whomever was responsible for the incident.

“Power was knocked out to the majority of Kane and Garfield counties, affecting residents and businesses in the counties,” officials from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Utah said in a statement. “The power outage lasted about eight hours.”

In an indictment filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, District of Utah, Central Division, Stephen Plato McRae, 57, of Escalante, was charged with destruction of an energy facility, possession of a firearm by a restricted person and possession of a controlled substance.

McRae is charged with “knowingly and willfully” damaging Garkane’s Buckskin substation and causing damage in excess of $100,000.

The indictment was announced Wednesday by U.S. Attorney John W. Huber, FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric K. Barnhart and Kane County Sheriff Tracy Glover in a statement issued by the U.S. Department of Justice.

McRae was charged with possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of marijuana in a federal indictment Nov. 13. He has been in custody since his arrest on that charge.

McRae was found in possession of a Springfield Armory, 30-40 rifle, Model 1898 rifle and associated ammunition, according to the Department of Justice. The rifle was found in the basement of a motel on Main Street in Escalante, court documents state.

If convicted, McRae could get up to 20 years in federal prison for the destruction of an energy facility, according to the Department of Justice.

The firearms charge carries a potential penalty of up to 10 years, and McRae could receive two years for possession of a controlled substance. Each charge carries a maximum fine of $250,000.

McRae’s initial appearance in federal court has not yet been scheduled.

The case is being investigated by special agents of the FBI and the Bureau of Land Management, who are participating as members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, along with the Kane County Sheriff’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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  • comments February 16, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    I remember we had a lot of conspiracists on here thinking it was ISIS or Alcaida muslims in some elaborate plot to sabotage the electric grid, LOL. I always believed it was some drunken redneck with a huntin’ rifle. His own kinsfolk probably turned him in for the 50,000. LOL

    • .... February 18, 2017 at 2:51 am

      And the biggest idiot conspiracist of all is you

  • Bender February 16, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    Another argument for abolishing all gun laws. This man felt threatened by Obama because Rush told him he was going to take his guns. What else could he do but shoot up an HV transformer? When will liberals learn?

  • Willie February 16, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    Ahhh man, some guy from Escalante? It was way more fun when everyone was wildly speculating that is was ISIS, Obama, or the Government. Maybe the next one will be actual conspiracy…. *sigh*

  • Badshitzoo February 17, 2017 at 12:45 am

    Obama was to the gun industry, what Trump is to SNL; the best thing that could have happened to a couple of organizations in need of a gift, that just keeps on giving!

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