Federal authorities have arrested six men in connection with what they say was a conspiracy to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D).
The conspiracy was a described by the FBI as a plot to violently overthrow the state government in Michigan, WITI-TV reported. The investigation into this conspiracy involved multiple informants and undercover FBI agents.
Documents filed in court Thursday allege that six men — Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, and Brandon Caserta — plotted to kidnap the governor.
According to the FBI, Croft, Fox, and about 13 other men met in Dublin, Ohio, on June 6 to form a self-sufficient society that would be based on the U.S. Bill of Rights. They allegedly discussed plans to achieve this aim violently.
"Several members talked about murdering 'tyrants' or 'taking' a sitting governor," an FBI agent wrote in the court affidavit. "The group decided they needed to increase their numbers and encouraged each other to talk to their neighbors and spread their message."
Fox allegedly reached out to a Michigan-based militia group to recruit men to attack the state Capitol building and take hostages, including the governor.
"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," the FBI said.
NBC News reported that the involvement of that militia in the plot to kidnap the governor "appears to be minimal as the group charged today allegedly discussed keeping the broader militia out of their plan."
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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.
The FBI said they have recordings of conversations discussing plans to attack a Michigan State Police facility and to shoot up Whitmer's vacation home. In one of these recordings, Fox allegedly said the best plan was to "kidnap her outside her vacation home."
"Snatch and grab, man. Grab the f***in' governor. Just grab the bitch. Because at that point, we do that, dude — it's over," Fox allegedly said, according to the FBI.
The FBI said in late August the alleged conspirators took pictures and video of Whitmer's vacation home and researched how far the police were from its location. A few weeks later in mid-September, the group allegedly created and detonated an IED surrounded by human silhouette targets and planned to put a similar device under an overpass to divert police while they kidnapped the governor.
The FBI said Fox told one of their sources he had purchased an 800,000-volt taser to use in the kidnapping. In conversation with an undercover officer, the group determined it would cost about $4,000 to get the explosives they allegedly intended to use for the IED and made plans to raise the funds over the next few weeks.
Videos have emerged of one of the arrested individuals, Brandon Caserta, making anti-government statements in front of an anarchist flag. The Detroit News reports that Caserta published videos to TikTok with the caption "#anarchy."
Additionally, video producer Robby Starbuck tweeted several of Caserta's videos showing he is an anarchist, not a right-wing ideologue.
More on the ideology of one of the men who was busted by the FBI for a plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer. In… https://t.co/0uc60VKeU2— Robby Starbuck (@Robby Starbuck)1602183986.0
Watch this video of Brandon Caserta. He was arrested for plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. In this video he… https://t.co/jJKaKiEmTQ— Robby Starbuck (@Robby Starbuck)1602186281.0