6 men arrested in plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
DETROIT (FOX 2) - Federal authorities have arrested six men who they said were conspiring to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
In a complaint filed in federal court, authorities announced the charges against six men, Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, and Brandon Caserta, all are accused of conspiring to kidnap Whitmer.
All men with the exception of Croft are residents of Michigan. Croft lives in Delaware.
Federal authorities and Michigan Attorney General held a press conference at 1 p.m. on Thursday to discuss the operation and arrests of seven other men connected to a Michigan militia group, Wolverine Watchmen.
According to the complaint, Croft, Fox, and about 13 other men gathered in Dublin, Ohio, on June 6 to form a society that followed the U.S. Bill of Rights in an effort to be self-sufficient. The group discussed ways to achieve this through violent means, the complaint says, and discussed plans.
"Several members talked about murdering 'tyrants' or 'taking' a sitting governor," the FBI wrote. "The group decided they needed to increase their numbers and encouraged each other to talk to their neighbors and spread their message. "
The FBI said Fox then reached out to a Michigan-based militia group and was focusing on Governor Whitmer.
"Fox said he needed '200 men' to storm the Capitol building in Lansing, Michigan, and take hostages, including the Governor. Fox explained they would try the Governor of Michigan for 'treason,' and he said they would execute the plan before the November 2020 elections," according to federal officials.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer said she will hold a press conference to discuss the arrests at 3 p.m. on Thursday.
According to the FBI, it learned of the plan through confidential sources and undercover agents over several months who attended militia group meetings. The FBI said the militia group would hold field training exercises on private property in remote areas of Michigan, where they would engage in firearm training and tactical drills.
At one point, the FBI said the group had a meeting in Grand Rapids in the basement of a shop that was accessed through a trap door hidden under a rug on the main floor. At that business, the FBI said they discussed the plan for the Capitol and planned to use "Molotov cocktails" to destroy police cars.
The FBI said Fox called Whitmer a "tyrant b****" and asked the group to be linked with other systems and asked for ideas of what they can do.
The militia group also met in Ohio and Wisconsin, the FBI reported, and on July 11 in Wisconsin, Croft and another member tried to make an improvised explosive device using black powder, balloons, a fuse, and BBs for shrapnel.
According to the FBI, there are recordings of a discussion to attack a Michigan State Police facility and shooting up the Governor's vacation home. Fox said in a recording that the best opportunity was to "kidnap her outside her vacation home", the FBI said.
"Snatch and grab, man. Grab the f*****’ Governor. Just grab the b****. Because at that point, we do that, dude -- it’s over,” the FBI quoted Fox as saying.
The FBI also said they would take her somewhere in Wisconsin for a "trial."
On July 27, 2020 Fox asked in an encrypted group chat, which included Garbin, Harris and Franks “Okay, well how’s everyone feel about kidnapping?” No one responded to the question. On July 28, 2020, Fox told CHS-2 over the phone that he had narrowed down his attack targets to the vacation home and the summer residence. The call was not recorded. The same day, Fox posted the following to a private Facebook page: “We about to be busy ladies and gentlemen . . . This is where the Patriot shows up. Sacrifices his time, money, blood sweat and tears . . . it starts now so get f---ing prepared!!”
According to the FBI, the group found her vacation home in late August, took pictures and video as they drove by, and found out how close police were to the home.
In a mid-September meeting, the group met, made, and detonated an IED that was surrounded by human silhouette targets, the FBI said, and planned to put an IED under an overpass to divert police from the vacation home along M-31.
According to documents, Fox wondered whether the group just needed to “party it out, make a cake and send it,” in what CHS-2 believed was a coded reference to sending a bomb to the Governor.
Fox spoke about explosives, saying “In all honesty right now . . . I just wanna make the world glow, dude. I’m not even f---ing kidding. I just wanna make it all glow dude. I don’t f---ing care anymore, I’m just so sick of it. That’s what it’s gonna take for us to take it back, we’re just gonna have to everything’s gonna have to be annihilated man.
"We’re gonna topple it all, dude. It’s what great frickin’ conquerors, man, we’re just gonna conquer every f---ing thing man.” Fox and Garbin further discussed the need for the government to collapse because it has become so tyrannical."
During the planning, the group had a conversation with an undercover officer that it would cost about $4,000 to get the explosives they want to blow up the bridge leading to the vacation home and they agreed to use the next few weeks to raise money, the FBI said.
In a recorded call, Fox told an FBI source that he bought an 800,000-volt taser that he was planning to use in the kidnapping, the FBI said.
On Wednesday, Oct. 7, Fox allegedly made plans to meet with an undercover officer to pay for explosives and exchange tactical gear.