Feds identify leaders they say were behind Whitmer kidnap plan
Correction: This story has been corrected to show that, according to the FAA, Ty Garbin has a mechanic's certificate, not a pilot's license.
Thirteen men face either federal or state charges for their alleged roles in conspiracy plans to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and overthrow the government. Here are three members identified by authorities as having played significant roles.
Looking to unite cause
One of the alleged ringleaders of a purported plot to kidnap Whitmer had an 800,000-volt stun gun he wanted to use with a group of militia members in a bid to take the governor captive.
Adam Fox, 37, of Potterville emerged in a federal court affidavit as a mastermind of the group's discussions over a series of months as they plotted the "violent overthrow" of government that included kidnapping Whitmer and putting her "on trial" for "treason."
Federal officials on Thursday charged Fox and five other individuals with conspiring to kidnap Whitmer.
Relatives and associates of Fox's listed in public records could not be reached Thursday for comment. A Grand Rapids shop owner employed him for years, according to WOOD-TV.
Early this year, Fox and Barry Croft of Delaware were identified by federal authorities as individuals who allegedly agreed to unite with others in their cause to take "violent action" against multiple state governments that they believed are violating the U.S. Constitution.
The pair, according to the affidavit, met with others in Dublin, Ohio, on June 6, and talked about creating a society that followed the U.S. Bill of Rights.
Fox, according to the affidavit, then obliged a request for the group to build its numbers by reaching out to a Michigan militia group that already had been brought to the attention of the FBI in March by allegedly attempting to obtain addresses of law enforcement officers.
The dealings of Fox and the five others were recorded in part by confidential sources. The affidavit detailed tactical training and drills conducted in remote areas of Michigan and other states with a goal of moving forward with the plan, the federal affidavit suggests.
On July 27, the confidential source met with Fox at his business in Grand Rapids, the affidavit said. Fox said the best opportunity to abduct Whitmer would be when she was arriving at or leaving her northern Michigan vacation home or the Mackinac Island summer residence.
Fox, the filing notes, described it as a “Snatch and grab, man. Grab the f-----’ Governor. Just grab the b----. Because at that point, we do that, dude — it’s over," he said.
In following meetings, the affidavit says, he suggested getting a real estate agent to help the group find the exact location and "discussed the importance of knowing the layout of the yard, homes, and security."
During an encrypted chat on July 27, Fox asked others "how's everyone feeling about the kidnapping?" according to the federal document.
The next day, the affidavit reads, Fox told the confidential source that he'd narrowed his targets and, the same day, posted on a private Facebook page: “We about to be busy ladies and gentlemen ... This is where the Patriot shows up. Sacrifices his time, money, blood sweat and tears ... it starts now so get f------ prepared!!”
He also live-streamed a video to a private Facebook group on June 25, in which he complained about the judicial system and the State of Michigan controlling the opening of gyms.
"Fox referred to Governor Whitmer as “this tyrant b----,” and stated, “I don’t know, boys, we gotta do something. You guys link with me on our other location system, give me some ideas of what we can do.” The video was preserved by the FBI.
Fox, in August, solicited group members to gather information on Whitmer's primary residence in Lansing and "discussed destroying the governor's boat," it notes.
The Detroit News reported in late May that Whitmer's husband, Marc Mallory, wanted his boat placed in the water before the Memorial Day weekend as Whitmer urged residents not to rush to the region. The governor later said her husband was joking.
“In all honesty right now ... I just wanna make the world glow, dude," Fox said, according to the affidavit. "That’s what it’s gonna take for us to take it back, we’re just gonna have to everything’s gonna have to be annihilated man. We’re gonna topple it all, dude."
Fox, along with others, conducted surveillance of Whitmer's property, taking photos and video and drafting a map, according to the document.
They also, during one exercise in mid-September, constructed an improvised explosive device out of a commercial firework and wrapped it in pennies and electrical tape as shrapnel. They set the device off in a clearing surrounded by human silhouette targets.
He directed a caravan of several vehicles to the vicinity of the governor's home and they later agreed to meet again in October for a final training. During a Sept. 30 call, Fox said he'd purchased a Taser for use in the kidnapping operation, according to the affidavit.
"Out of everywhere that she resides, this is the only one that’s probably actually feasible with a success rate," Fox said, according to the affidavit.
Alleged conspirator urged 'shooting up' Whitmer's vacation home
One of the alleged ringleaders of the purported plot to kidnap Gretchen Whitmer is a former Wyandotte resident whose Hartland home was raided Wednesday night by FBI agents.
He also is accused of suggesting "shooting up" Whitmer's vacation cabin, according to federal officials.
Ty Gerard Garbin, 24, in Livingston County's Hartland was charged Thursday in Grand Rapids federal court with conspiracy to commit kidnapping.
The alleged plot involved conspirators who met during a Second Amendment rally at the Michigan Capitol in June and contacted members of a Michigan militia for reinforcements, according to state and federal officials.
Another of the alleged conspirators, Fox, supposedly told Garbin and another individual, who turned out to be a government informant, that he planned to attack the state Capitol and asked them to join him, according to a federal affidavit released Thursday.
At a gathering in Ohio, Garbin suggested "shooting up" Whitmer's vacation home in northern Michigan, saying he did not want to target the Michigan Capitol, according to the affidavit.
The Hartland resident later "said he was 'cool' with going after the governor’s vacation home, however, even if it only resulted in destruction of property," according to the federal document.
During a July 18 meeting, Garbin and others discussed attacking a Michigan State Police facility, according to the affidavit.
At one point he participated in a late June tactical training exercise at the Munith residence of a militia group member, according to the affidavit, as well as firearms training and combat drills in Wisconsin in July. He is also accused of helping to make an improvised explosive device that didn't detonate.
Garbin has a mechanic's certificate for airframe and powerplant, according to the Federal Aviation Administration website, and also goes by the name Ty Gerard Wicker.
Garbin lived with an older man and woman in a well-kept mobile home park in Hartland Township.
An older man who answered the door at his newish mobile home declined to comment Thursday.
Neighbors said they didn’t know Garbin or the other two adults well. They said the three adults had lived there less than a year.
Neighbor Gary Hovsepian said he saw Garbin start work on a garden in the yard but never finished it. The garden is just a dirt patch blocked off from the rest of the lawn with bricks.
“He was quiet,” Hovsepian said about Garbin. “They seemed to be nice.”
Hovsepian said he was shocked when he heard about the alleged plot involving the kidnapping.
“I don’t know what’s scarier: the COVID or the politics,” he said.
Another neighbor, Evelyn Shundoff, said she had just one encounter with the family when one of the dogs entered her yard.
Shundoff said she, too, was shocked by her proximity to a person allegedly involving in the criminal scheme.
“It’s strange not knowing what you live next to,” she said.
During the Thursday court session, Garbin asked for a court-appointed attorney, citing his financial status. He is being held without bond pending an Oct. 13 bond hearing and a preliminary examination.
FBI: Delaware man helped organize kidnapping plot
The alleged plot to kidnap Whitmer started when a Delaware resident chatted online with a Michigan man about organizing a "violent overthrow" of the government, according to FBI documents filed in federal court.
Barry Croft, 44, of Bear, Delaware is one of 13 people to be charged Thursday with the alleged plan to kidnap Whitmer.
According to an affidavit filed by an FBI agent, the plot started with online chats between Croft and Fox.
As part of the scheme, Croft detonated an improvised explosive device to test its effectiveness, authorities allege.
"In early 2020, the FBI became aware through social media that a group of individuals were discussing the violent overthrow of certain government and law-enforcement components," the 15-page affidavit said. "Among those individuals identified were Croft and Fox.
"Through electronic communications, Croft and Fox agreed to unite others in their cause and take violent action against multiple state governments that they believe are violating the U.S. Constitution," the filing said.
Federal authorities allege that Croft and Fox met up with other men from multiple states in Dublin, Ohio, where they discussed "creating a society that followed the U.S. Bill of Rights and where they could be self-sufficient,” the FBI agent wrote.
“They discussed different ways of achieving this goal from peaceful endeavors to violent actions. At one point, several members talked about state governments they believed were violating the U.S. Constitution, including the government of Michigan and Whitmer," the agent wrote.
In mid-September, the alleged conspirators made an improvised explosive device, or IED, by removing the cap from a commercial firework, adding black powder and "wrapping the device in pennies and electrical tape as shrapnel," the filing said.
"During the exercise, the group set the device in a clearing surrounded by human silhouette targets, and Croft detonated it to test its anti-personnel effectiveness," the affidavit said.
According to online records, Croft has several convictions in several states on his record, mostly for traffic-related offenses. He also owes the state of Delaware $36,741 in unpaid taxes, records show.