Six alleged militia members accused in Michigan governor kidnapping plot arraigned on terrorism charges

Six alleged members of a militia accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer were arraigned Friday on terrorism charges, the state attorney general’s office said. The seventh is awaiting extradition to Michigan.

In total, 19 state felony charges were filed by Attorney General Dana Nessel against the seven men, who are accused of being in the Wolverine Watchmen or associates of the Wolverine Watchmen. 

According to Nessel, the seven suspects allegedly called on members of the group to identify the home addresses of law enforcement officers, made threats of violence to instigate a civil war leading to “societal collapse,” and were planning and training for an operation to attack the state Capitol building and kidnap government officials, including Whitmer.

The six arraigned on Friday were identified as Shawn Fix, 38; Eric Molitor, 36; Michael Null, 38; William Null, 38; Pete Musico, 42; and  Joseph Morrison, 26. The seventh suspect, Paul Bellar, 21, is being extradited from South Carolina. 

Federal charges were also filed against six other individuals. Five of the six of those individuals are set to appear in court on October 13, with the sixth being extradited from Delaware. 

CBS News obtained an FBI bulletin that went out last week warning that anti-government extremists are potentially focused on sparking violence “in the next three months” and “up to the January 2021 inauguration” and that the presidential election “could be a flashpoint.” 

Federal and state authorities on Thursday announced the charges against the 13 individuals. At one point, officials said, one of the suspects wanted to recruit 200 men to help storm the Michigan capital and take hostages, including Whitmer. 

Two of the 13 individuals arrested were photographed at an armed protest against coronavirus restrictions at the Capitol building in Lansing in April.

Nessel told “CBS This Morning” on Friday that investigators had kept Whitmer and her family updated on the investigation, and the family had to be “moved around” for their safety. 

Nessel said the suspects came close enough to executing the plan that law enforcement had to move in “before anybody lost their lives.”

“They had all the means to do it. They had been in training exercises. We think they had the necessary equipment — artillery, explosives, things of that nature. And we thought the trainings had gone on long enough,” she said. 

Whitmer on Thursday blamed President Trump’s rhetoric for “stoking distrust, fomenting anger and giving comfort to those who spread fear and hatred and division,” and called his words a “rallying cry” for hate groups. 

Mr. Trump responded Thursday night in a series of tweets condemning “extreme violence,” but also blasting Whitmer for not saying “thank you.” He also said his “Justice Department and Federal Law Enforcement” deserved credit for foiling the “dangerous plot.”

Nessel called Mr. Trump’s comments “very unhelpful.” 

Jeff Pegues and Pat Milton contributed reporting.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *