KEY POINTS

  • Federal and state authorities are on high alert in Michigan due to the plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
  • At least 13 people are facing multiple state and federal charges for their alleged parts in the plot
  • The FBI said the group was in contact with other militias in neighboring states looking for support in the plot

Michigan law enforcement is on high alert Monday after learning about an anti-government extremist group’s plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and also kill several key members of police. Several members of a Michigan-based militia were previously arrested for their alleged parts in the plot.

“We're cautious. We're absolutely more careful,” Michigan State Police First Lt. Mike Shaw told the Detroit Free Press. “This is one of the tactics these anti-government, domestic terrorism groups use. Law enforcement is the face of the government. If you're mad at the government, you're mad at the police.”

He added state police were still investigating the plot and monitoring for any action on the part of the militia, which is considered heavily armed. Whitmer, her family, and other state officials remain under the state police’s protection until they are sure the threat has passed.

The FBI uncovered the plot over the summer involving the Michigan anti-government militia planning to ignite a second civil war. Whitmer was a consistent target of the group’s plot, which called for her kidnapping before the November elections. This resulted in the arrests of 13 people on multiple state and federal charges, including conspiracy to kidnap, supporting terrorism, gang membership, and possession of a firearm in commission of a felony.

“According to the affidavit, they went from being a law-abiding group of gun owners and forming a local militia to beliefs that switched to something more dangerous and sinister,” former National Security Council senior director for counterterrorism Javed Ali told the Detroit Free Press. “Officer safety is absolutely a consideration. By trying to collect (home) addresses for individual law enforcement, it appears they were trying to prepare 'targeting packages' on those officers.”

Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, and Brandon Caserta were identified as six of the driving forces behind the plot.

“The group talked about creating a society that followed the U.S. Bill of Rights and where they could be self-sufficient,” Thursday’s affidavit said. “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.”

Additionally, Fox was in contact with other militia groups in neighboring states looking for support in the plot and get Whitmer to Wisconsin for a planned trial.

“Fox said he needed '200 men' to storm the Capitol building in Lansing, Michigan, and take hostages, including the Governor,” the affidavit said. “Fox explained they would try the Governor of Michigan for 'treason,' and he said they would execute the plan before the November 2020 elections.” 

Nine of 13 members of Michigan right-wing militias charged with a plot to kidnap the state's governor, Gretchen Whitmer (L-R, top to bottom) Michael Null, William Null, Eric Molitor, Shawn Fix, Ty Garbin, Brandon Caserta, Kaleb Franks, Adam Fox, and Dani Nine of 13 members of Michigan right-wing militias charged with a plot to kidnap the state's governor, Gretchen Whitmer (L-R, top to bottom) Michael Null, William Null, Eric Molitor, Shawn Fix, Ty Garbin, Brandon Caserta, Kaleb Franks, Adam Fox, and Daniel Harris. Photo: Antrim County Sheriff's Office