Attempted kidnapping of Governor Whitmer

TREY NICHOLS
COPY EDITOR

Earlier this week, Governor Gretchen Whitmer was the target of an attempted kidnapping. Thirteen men were charged in the kidnapping plot; seven of the men face state charges and the other six face federal charges.

Of the six federal charges, five men were from Michigan: Adam Fox, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, and Brandon Caserta. One man was from Delaware: Barry Croft. Other people are still suspected in the crime.

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has been holding tight restrictions on public gatherings and mask mandates in Michigan. While some citizens of Michigan are grateful for her restrictions, but there are people who are displeased. A group of men decided to kidnap Governor Whitmer and leave her on her boat in lake Michigan.

Adam Fox was the leader of the “Michigan III%ers, and they worked together with the Wolverine Watchmen to plan and train for various acts of violence including kidnapping politicians and storming the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing.

In early discussions, before the conspirators focused more exclusively on Governor Whitmer, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, who like Governor Whitmer is a Democrat, was mentioned as a possible kidnapping target.

“This was a highly strategic operation with a lot of moving parts, and that would be up to law enforcement to inform people who needed to know. [Whitmer] received the information confidentially, said Dana Nessel, Michigan’s Attorney General. “One person talking to the wrong individual could have cost numerous law enforcement officers their lives.”

Through confidential informants and undercover agents, federal agents learned that some of the men had staked out Governor Whitmer’s vacation home in northern Michigan. They had also planned to detonate a bomb to divert law enforcement away from her home. Other elected officials and members of law enforcement were also targeted.

“I believe they should be tried for the premeditated attempted kidnapping and any other charges connected to the surveillance,” said Kayla Koepf (’23). “Those people made a plan, thought it out, and were going to act on it if their plan did not go wrong.”

The men trained together in tactical exercises, and they discussed plans to kidnap Governor Whitmer before the November election. They were also preparing for “the boogaloo,” or a racial or political civil war.

“Training with weapons and learning how to use them seems like they were intending on actually hurting her,” said Emily Krolikowski (’21).

In early discussions among the Michigan III%ers and the Wolverine Watchmen, Fox and others took close-up still photos and videos outside Governor Whitmer’s vacation home as part of the planning to kidnap her. Prosecutors showed in the courtroom photos of Fox shooting photos just outside the cottage, in daylight.

By the time the Michigan III%ers and the Wolverine Watchmen conducted a second surveillance outside the cottage, this time at night, they had been so thoroughly infiltrated by the FBI that two undercover FBI agents and two confidential informants were part of the surveillance group.

“There is a reason we as a country have set up a system in which we can protest rather than enact violence,” said Sarah Ward (’21).

A suspect in the case, Paul Bellar, is facing extradition from South Carolina where he was arrested last week. Bellar had the role of “Sergeant,” based on his expertise in firearms, medical training and his ability to design tactical exercises.

The other suspects facing state charges are in custody in Michigan jails according to the attorney general’s office.

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