In a federal affidavit filed Thursday, the FBI says it prevented what it described as a plot to violently overthrow the government and kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Federal prosecutors are expected to discuss the allegations further later on Thursday. Additionally, the alleged plot involved reaching out to members of a Michigan militia.
“Several members talked about murdering ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ a sitting governor,” the FBI’s affidavit read. “The group decided they needed to increase their numbers and encouraged each other to talk to their neighbors and spread their message.”
On Wednesday, a team of FBI agents raided a Hartland Township, MI home. Just hours later the FBI filed their affidavit. The raid took place during an ongoing investigation into a Detroit man’s death who was killed during a shootout with FBI agents.
The FBI described a plot that involved at least six people. The affidavit filed in federal court detailed probable cause to charge the six men with conspiring to kidnap Whitmer. The men identified by name included Ty Garbin, 24, whose home was raided by agents. In addition, agents arrested Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, and Brandon Caserta.
The FBI Has Monitored the Group for Months
The ongoing investigation began in early 2020 when the FBI learned of the possible plot through social media. Supposedly, the individuals discussed the violent overthrow of multiple state governments and law enforcement.
In June, Croft, Fox, and 13 others from different states attended a meeting in Dublin, Ohio. A confidential source to the FBI recorded the meeting while in attendance.
“The group talked about creating a society that followed the U.S. Bill of Rights and where they could be self-sufficient,” an 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.
The affidavit did not identify the militia group. However, the FBI has tracked the militia since March. Local police learned militia members actively tried to obtain addresses of local law-enforcement officers, according to the FBI.
“At the time, the FBI interviewed a member of the militia group who was concerned about the group’s plans to target and kill police officers. And that person agreed to become a (confidential source),” wrote the agent.
In late June, Fox posted a video on Facebook where he complained about Michigan’s judicial system. He also complained about COVID-19 restrictions on gyms operating in the state.
“Fox referred to Governor Whitmer as ‘this tyrant b—h,’ and stated, ‘I don’t know, boys, we gotta do something,’ according to the affidavit. “You guys link with me on our other location system, give me some ideas of what we can do.”
Michigan Governor’s Residence Received Recent Security Upgrades
Michigan Attorney Dana Nessel will meet with state police, FBI officials, and the U.S. attorneys from Detroit and Grand Rapids. They will meet at 1 p.m. EST on Thursday to announce “details of a major operation” and criminal charges.
The criminal case follows months of restrictions on travel and business due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The lockdown has been a lightning rod for anti-government extremists in this country. And Gov. Whitmer has been on the forefront of their targeting,” said GWU’s Program on Extremism deputy director Seamus Hughes.
In fact, the state-owned Michigan governor’s residence received security upgrades in recent weeks. The upgrades primarily included the construction of a new perimeter fence.
Whitmer spokeswoman Tiffany Brown said the “perimeter security and other safety upgrades” were planned last year.
The new security upgrades should have began installation in the spring. But, the pandemic delayed the project until recent weeks.
[H/T Detroit News]