The FBI says it thwarted what it described as a plot to violently overthrow the government and kidnap Michigan Gov.
USA – Gretchen Whitmer. The alleged plot involved reaching out to members of a Michigan militia, according to a federal affidavit filed Thursday.
The court filing alleges the conspirators twice conducted surveillance at Whitmer’s personal vacation home in northern Michigan and discussed kidnapping her to a “secure location” in Wisconsin to stand “trial” for treason prior to the Nov. 3 election.
“Several members talked about murdering ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ a sitting governor,” an FBI agent wrote in the affidavit. “The group decided they needed to increase their numbers and encouraged each other to talk to their neighbors and spread their message.”
The affidavit was filed hours after a team of FBI agents raided a Hartland Township home Wednesday and comes amid an ongoing investigation into the death of a Metro Detroit man killed during a shootout with FBI agents.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, federal and state officers on Thursday detailed charges against more than 12 people and what they described as “elaborate plans” to overthrow the government and kidnap Whitmer.
The nature of the case is “rather unprecedented,” Michigan State Police Col. Joe Gasper said at a news conference.
“But it does send a very vivid reminder that while we may be in a period of discourse, possibly even divisiveness and fighting across the nation, law enforcement stands united,” Gasper said.
The investigation is the result of months of work that culminated Wednesday night in the execution of a series of search warrants and arrest warrants — both in-state and out-of-state — related to acts of terrorism under Michigan state law.
The conspiracy described by the FBI specifically involved at least six people, including Ty Garbin, 24, whose home was raided by agents in Hartland Township late Wednesday.
The affidavit filed in federal court details probable cause to charge the six men with conspiring to kidnap Whitmer. Those identified by name include:
kidnap Whitmer And Overthrow Michigan Gov Is Failed
Ages and hometowns for all six men were not immediately available, but officials said all but Croft are from Michigan. Croft is from Delaware.
U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge of the Western District of Michigan said each faces a sentence of up to life in prison, if convicted.
“All of us standing here today want the public to know that federal and state law enforcement are committed to working together to make sure violent extremists never succeed with their plans, particularly when they target our duly elected leaders,” Birge said.
Through confidential sources, undercover agents and “clandestine” recordings, federal agents tracked the six men during their planning to kidnap Whitmer as they communicated over encrypted messaging platforms using code words and phrases in an attempt to avoid detection by law enforcement, Birge said.
The group also allegedly participated in field exercises that included detonating an improvised explosive wrapped in shrapnel to test its capabilities, he said.
Separately, Nessel announced state charges against seven other individuals pursuant to the state’s anti-terrorism act, “all of whom are in custody and linked to the militia group Wolverine Watchmen.”
In total, 19 state felony charges for firearms and terror-related acts were filed by Nessel against seven individuals known to be members or associates of Wolverine Watchmen.
The individuals include 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, who live together in Munith.
The federal investigation dates to early 2020 when the FBI learned through social media that individuals were discussing the violent overthrow of several state governments and law enforcement.
In June, Croft, Fox and 13 others from multiple states held a meeting in Dublin, Ohio, near Columbus, according to the government.
Those present included an FBI confidential source who recorded the meetings. The source has been paid $8,600.
“The group talked about creating a society that followed the U.S. Bill of Rights and where they could be self-sufficient,” the FBI agent wrote.
“They discussed different ways of achieving this goal from peaceful endeavors to violent actions. At one point, several members talked about state governments they believed were violating the U.S. Constitution, including the government of Michigan and Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
“As part of that recruitment effort, Fox reached out to a Michigan-based militia group,” the agent added.