Militia group plotted to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, feds say
Paul Egan & Tresa Baldas
Detroit Free Press
LANSING — The federal government has charged six people with conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, according to newly unsealed court records.
The FBI became aware early in 2020, through social media, that a militia group was “discussing the violent overthrow of certain government and law enforcement components,” and “agreed to take violent action,” according to a sworn affidavit.
Members of the group talked about “murdering … tyrants” or “taking” a sitting governor, according to the affidavit. One of the relevant meetings the FBI monitored was held June 20 in Grand Rapids. the affidavit alleges. Another meeting was held at a home in Luther, Mich., and in Munith.
Discussions included using 200 men to “storm” the Capitol Building in Lansing, kidnap hostages, including, Whitmer and try the governor for treason, according to the affidavit.
The group met for field exercises and training this year and conducted surveillance of the the governor’s vacation home on at least two occasions in late August and September, the affidavit alleges. They also purchased an 800,000-volt Taser and night goggles for use in the kidnapping plot, according to court records. Members of the plot said they wanted to complete the kidnapping before the Nov. 3 election, according to the affidavit.
“All of us can disagree about politics, but those disagreements should never, ever result in violence,” said U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider in the Eastern District of Michigan. “The allegations in this complaint are deeply disturbing. We owe our thanks to the men and women of law enforcement who uncovered this plot and have worked so hard to protect Gov. Whitmer.”
Charged in the U.S. District Court in the western district of Michigan are: Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, and Brandon Caserta, according to a criminal complaint. They are charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping, according to the complaint.
All are residents of Michigan except Croft, who is a resident of Delaware, the complaint alleges.
More than a dozen people from several states met in Dublin, Ohio on June 6 and talked about creating a society that followed the U.S. Bill of Rights, in which they could be self-sufficient. After that meeting, a militia group in Michigan was contacted.
The FBI used confidential informants as part of the investigation and has paid one of them more than $14,000, according to the affidavit.
On July 18, at a meeting in Ohio that was secretly audio recorded, Garbin suggested shooting up the governor’s vacation home, which he said he would prefer over trying to go to the Capitol in Lansing.
Fox said the best opportunity to abduct Whitmer would be when she was arriving at, or leaving, either her personal vacation home or the governor’s official summer residence on Mackinac Island, according to the affidavit.
Fox described the plans as, “Snatch and grab, man. Grab the f—-n governor. Just grab the b—-. Because at that point, we do that dude, it’s over.”
Fox suggested they get a Realtor to help them find the exact location of the vacation home and collect information on the surrounding homes and structures,” according to the affidavit.
He also discussed the importance of knowing the layout of the yard, homes, and security, said they needed to map out the surrounding property and gates, and needed plumbers and electricians to help them read blueprints to refine their strategy, according to the affidavit. Fox suggested recruiting an engineer or information technology expert,” a “demo guy,” and other “operators,” according to the affidavit.