Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping plot: Who are the 6 accused? Details about Michigan gov's 'planned' abduction revealed
The evidence that indicted the men includes videos of them practicing with semi-automatic weapons and also showing a taser
TRAVERSE CITY, MICHIGAN: A federal grand jury has indicted six men for conspiring to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in what investigators say was a plot by anti-government extremists who were angry over her Covid-19 policies. The charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
The indictment was released on Thursday, December 17, by US Attorney Andrew Birge, who levied the conspiracy charge against Adam Dean Fox, Barry Gordon Croft Jr, Ty Gerard Garbin, Kaleb James Franks, Daniel Joseph Harris and Brandon Michael-Ray Caserta. They are all from Michigan except for Croft, who lives in Delaware.
The six arrests were made in early October, following an FBI investigation into an alleged plot to kidnap the Democratic governor at her vacation home in northern Michigan. Defense attorneys have said their clients were “big talkers” who had no intentions to follow through on the alleged plan.
The possible kidnappings of the Governors and other actions were discussed when Fox and Croft met in Dublin, Ohio, in June 2020. During the hearing, Trask said Virginia’s Democratic Governor Ralph Northam was among those mentioned as potential targets. It says Fox later met Garbin, a leader of a Michigan group called the “Wolverine Watchmen", at a rally outside of the Michigan Capitol in Lansing. At a meeting in Grand Rapids, the two men and other members of the Watchmen agreed to work together “toward their common goals,” the document says.
It describes live-fire “field training exercises” and other preparations, including monitoring Whitmer’s vacation house and the transfer of encrypted messages. During one training event, “they practiced assaulting a building in teams, and discussed tactics for fighting the governor’s security detail with improvised explosive devices, a projectile launcher, and other weapons,” the indictment says. Fox, the suspected ringleader, is alleged to have even drawn a map that demarcates Whitmer's vacation home and the distance between the house to the nearest police station.
They also talked about demolishing a highway bridge near Whitmer’s house to stop law enforcement from responding, it states. According to the indictment, in an electronic message, Caserta said that if the men encountered policemen during a reconnaissance mission, “they should give the officers one opportunity to leave, and kill them if they did not comply.” They were arrested after four members registered a meeting on October 7 in Ypsilanti, west of Detroit, to meet an undercover FBI agent and buy ammunition and other supplies, the indictment says.
The Western District of Michigan US Attorney's Office released a wealth of photos, videos, phone calls and encrypted messages that they are planning to use as evidence against the indicted six men.
A large number of pieces of evidence have been collected against the six men. The evidence includes videos of the men practicing with semi-automatic weapons and also shows a taser, which they allegedly planned to use in the kidnapping plot. A video released by the US Attorney's Office revealed several of the men facing federal charges carrying out what appeared to be tactical training exercises, involving exiting a PT Cruiser and shooting at an unseen target.
Some more videos displayed the men doing split-second ammunition reloads and bragging about what they would do if things go wrong. One video also shows accused conspirator Fox smiling as he sets off a taser, recognized as a 800,000-volt model, according to Detroit News. Apart from the video evidence, there are text messages and maps, which appeared to be surveillance pictures of bridges and homes. Authorities said the images were taken on properties that Whitmer owned.