SALT LAKE CITY — A federal grand jury handed down an indictment Wednesday for an Escalante man accused of shooting at a southern Utah substation, knocking out power to two counties.
Stephen Plato McRae, 57, was charged Wednesday with destruction of an energy facility. The indictment also includes two charges filed in November, possession of a firearm or ammunition by a restricted person and possession of a controlled substance, taking the place of the original criminal complaint.
McRae is suspected of firing at the Garkane Energy Cooperative's Buckskin substation in Kane County on Sept. 25, 2016, according to the indictment. The shots damaged a transformer, leaving the majority of residents and businesses in Kane and Garfield counties without power for eight hours.
A confidential witness told investigators McRae kept a rifle in a blue bin in his pickup truck and had "shot stuff up" in Nevada, according to the original complaint. McRae took care to keep the gun at the bottom of the bin, the witness indicated, and had later moved the bin out of his truck and stored it in the basement of an Escalante motel.
McRae told the witness he wanted another weapon because his rifle didn't have a scope, and that he "purchases ammunition at small retailers to avoid scrutiny from law enforcement and others," the complaint says.
McRae was convicted in Texas of felony charges including possession of controlled substance, burglary of a vehicle and burglary of a habitat, prohibiting him from having firearms, the complaint states.
The indictment alleges McRae was found to have a Springfield Armory 30-40 rifle, a Model 1898 rifle and associated ammunition.
McCrae has been in custody since November.
The potential maximum penalty for destruction of an energy facility is 20 years in federal prison, according to a release from the Department of Justice. The firearm count in the indictment has a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and the possession of a controlled substance has a potential two-year penalty. Each count has a potential fine of $250,000.