Law enforcement officers say they’ve thwarted an attempt to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and possibly overthrow the state government.
Six people have been charged after being arrested on Oct. 7. They include Michigan residents Adam Fox, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, Brandon Caserta, and Delaware resident Barry Croft.
In the criminal complaint filed in court, FBI Special Agent Richard Trask said the conspiracy to commit kidnapping began in June 2020.
The FBI had people go undercover and attend meetings in Dublin, Ohio by the group planning the kidnapping, Trask said. The meeting was with Croft, Fox, and about 13 others. Officials say the plan was to kidnap Whitmer from her vacation home, before the November election.
"Through electronic communications, Croft and Fox agreed to unite others in their cause and take violent action against multiple state governments that they believe are violating the US Constitution," including the government of Michigan and Whitmer, according to the complaint.
"They discussed different ways of achieving this goal from peaceful endeavors to violent actions ... Several members talked about murdering 'tyrants' or 'taking' a sitting governor," the complaint continued.
At a meeting on June 20, the group discussed plans for assaulting the Michigan State Capitol, and using "Molotov cocktails" to destroy police, Trask said in his complaint. They also attempted to get addresses for local law enforcement officers.
During another gathering on Aug. 9, one of the suspects asked the group about kidnapping the governor, Trask's complaint said.
Officials said conspirators used encrypted messaging platforms to communicate and used code words and phrases.
The group continued to meet to discuss the logistics of their plan through early October, the criminal complaint said.
Investigators said there was surveillance conducted on the governor’s vacation home, and there was discussion about using an explosive to distract law enforcement personnel. That included Fox allegedly inspecting the underside of a highway bridge to see where explosives could be placed.
They also allegedly tested an explosive with shrapnel to test its anti-personnel capabilities.
The criminal complaint alleges Fox said the group would move Whitmer to a secure location in Wisconsin for "trial" after kidnapping her.
At one point during a meeting, the group discussed increasing their members and Fox reached out to a "Michigan based militia group," according to the complaint.
Seven individuals with the militia group Wolverine Watchmen, or associates of Wolverine Watchmen, are also facing charges in connection with the alleged plan.
Whitmer held a press conference Thursday addressing the kidnapping plan.
She thanked the attorney general and everyone else that worked hard and put themselves in harms way to keep her safe. As well as the work that will be done to “Bring these sick and depraved men to justice,” she said.
“We are not each another’s enemy, the virus is our enemy,” Whitmer said.
She said when she took the oath of office she "never could have imagined anything like this.”
She called for the nation to come together as well.
“This should be a moment for national unity where we all pull together as Americans to meet this challenge with the same might and muscle that put a man on the moon,” she said.
Whitmer also called out President Donald Trump saying he has stoked hate speech. She said his refusal to condemn white supremacists and hate groups was a rallying cry for the groups like the ones in the alleged kidnapping plot.
“Hatred, bigotry and violence have no place in the great state of Michigan,” Whitmer said.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany issued the following statement:
“President Trump has continually condemned white supremacists and all forms of hate. Governor Whitmer is sowing division by making these outlandish allegations. America stands united against hate and in support of our federal law enforcement who stopped this plot.”
The federal complaint can be read here-click on the complaint to read it all: (warning there is vulgar language in the complaint)