The FBI foiled a plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer of the state of Michigan and forcibly depose its government, the bureau said in court documents unsealed Thursday.
The plot allegedly involved six men, five of whom are from Michigan, seeking to recruit members from a militia that was brought to the bureau’s attention by a Michigan police department in March.
The unsealed criminal complaint says the men sought the help of 200 men to overrun the state capitol and take hostages, including Whitmer, who they sought to try for treason. The plot was to be launched before the Nov. 3 presidential election.
“Several members talked about murdering ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ a sitting governor. The group decided they needed to increase their numbers and encouraged each other to talk to their neighbors and spread their message,” said the document.
Whitmer has said she has faced an onslaught of threats after imposing strict measures to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus in the state. At least one man has already been taken into custody for making “credible threats” to kill the governor in a separate case.
US President Donald Trump has repeatedly singled out the Democratic governor for criticism over her lockdown measures, vaguely tweeting in April, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!”
The six suspects were identified as Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta.
They allegedly surveilled Whitmer’s vacation residence in August, taking photos and slow-motion video from a vehicle as they drove past, and looking up the location of local and state police in the area to estimate how long it would take officers to respond.
“We ain’t gonna let ‘em burn our ****** state down. I don’t give a **** if there’s only 20 or 30 of us, dude, we’ll go out there and use deadly force,” Fox allegedly said.
The group returned to the home overnight Sept. 12 to conduct nighttime surveillance, according to the criminal complaint.
Prosecutors are expected to formally announce charges and detail the plot during a press conference later Thursday.
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