MICHIGAN — Wednesday night, the FBI and state police arrested six men a part of the Wolverine Watchmen militia group for allegedly conspiring to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer before the November election. Thursday afternoon, officials held a press conference, describing the plot and the federal charges the men now face.
“The inter-agency effort represented here in tandem with my office culminated in the execution of several search warrants and arrests across the state,” said Attorney General Dana Nessel during the press conference. “Our efforts uncovered elaborate plans to endanger the lives of law enforcement officers, government officials and the broader public.”
Nessel said the warrants were executed in 19 municipalities throughout the state, including Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Plainwell in West Michigan.
Andrew Birge, the U.S. attorney for Michigan’s western district, said the investigation began months ago when law enforcement learned on social media of a plot to ‘violently overthrow certain government and law enforcement components.’
“The alleged conspirators used operational security measures communicating by encrypted messaging platforms and used code words and phrases in attempt to avoid detection by law enforcement,” Birge said during the presser. “Among other activities, members of this conspiracy on two occasions conducted coordinated surveillance on the governors vacation home.”
Birge also stated the men — Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, Brandon Caserta — tested explosive devices that they were hoping to place in the area of her vacation home to divert police. Fox even surveyed nearby highways to place the devices as well.
“The complaint further alleges that Fox purchased a taser for use in the kidnapping and that the group successfully detonated and improvised explosive device wrapped with shrapnel to test its anti-personnel capabilities,” Birge said. “The FBI and state police executed the arrest of several of those conspirators when they were meeting on the east side of the state to pool funds for explosives and exchanged tactical gear.”
Birge said the investigation is ongoing.
Nessel added that the men are also facing state charges including felony firearms and gang membership.
Several other men have been charged at the state level as well: Paul Bellar, 21, of Milford; Shawn Fix, 38, of Belleville; Eric Molitor, 36, of Cadillac; Michael Null, 38, of Plainwell; William Null, 38, of Shelbyville; Pete Musico, 42, of Munith; and Joseph Morrison, 42, of Munith.
“All of us in Michigan, can disagree about politics but those disagreements should never ever amount to violence,” said Matthew Schneider, U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Michigan. “Because of the hardworking of men and women in law enforcement, police officers and federal agents, violence has been prevented today.”