According to a federal complaint filed Thursday, multiple conspirators met during a Second Amendment rally at the Michigan Capitol building in Lansing in June, and allegedly hatched a plan. Part of their alleged plot included reaching out to members of a state militia, known as the Wolverine Watchmen, for recruits.
“Several members talked about murdering ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ a sitting governor. The group decided they needed to increase their numbers and encouraged each other to talk to their neighbors and spread their message,” an FBI agent wrote in an affidavit.
The alleged conspirators are accused of staking out Whitmer’s home, and of discussing using a bomb as a diversion so that they could kidnap the governor, take her to a secure location, and “try” her for “treason” before the November 3 election.
According to a companion Detroit News report, the suspects allegedly wanted to identify the home addresses of law enforcement officers in order to target them; made threats of violence to instigate a civil war leading to societal collapse; and engaged in the planning and training for an operation to attack the state Capitol building and kidnap government officials, including Whitmer.
Confidential informants worked with undercover FBI agents, who tracked the suspects as they used encrypted messaging platforms and code words to carry out their alleged plot. At one point, the accused allegedly detonated an improvised explosive wrapped in shrapnel to test it.
On Wednesday, law enforcement agents executed search warrants and arrest warrants at multiple locations around Michigan.
Six men are charged specifically with conspiring to kidnap Whitmer. They are identified as Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, and Brandon Caserta. Also arrested in connection with the plot are seven other individuals pursuant to the state’s anti-terrorism act, identified as Paul Bellar, 21, of Milford; Shawn Fix, 38, of Belleville; Eric Molitor, 36, of Cadillac; Michael Null, 38, of Plainwell; William Null, 38, of Shelbyville; Pete Musico, 42, and Joseph Morrison, 42, both of Munith.
In a statement, Whitmer took President Donald Trump to task for allegedly failing to condemn domestic terrorist groups in strong enough terms, and for telling one group, the Proud Boys, to “stand back and stand by.”
“Hate groups heard the president’s words not as a rebuke, but as a rallying cry, a call to action,” she said.