Plot to kidnap Michigan governor has ties to Wisconsin

NOW: Plot to kidnap Michigan governor has ties to Wisconsin

MICHIGAN (CNN/CBS 58) -- Six men were charged Thursday in an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, according to a federal criminal complaint. We've learned the federal investigation has ties to Wisconsin. 

The six individuals charged in the Western District of Michigan with conspiracy to kidnap are Michigan residents Adam Fox, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, Brandon Caserta, and Delaware resident Barry Croft. 

Federal authorities say five of the men arrested were in Cambria, Wisconsin in July for firearms training. They also attempted to build explosives, but the construction was faulty. 

"We have a militia that trains here," said Michael Jung, who lives outside of Cambria. 

He said he knew the men involved in the plot, but said they did not discuss the plot when trained at his home, and he did not know what they were planning to do. 

"We train, we do rifle training, some exercise and training, it's mostly militia training, do a lot of shooting and targeting," Jung said. 

When asked if they worked on explosives there, he said "I can't answer that."

Jung said he did not agree with the plot to kidnap Governor Whitmer. 

"No I don't agree with that. That's not the way we do things normally. They're on their own on that one. We're our own militia here."

Jung says he is "second in command" for the Three Percenters in Wisconsin, described by the Anti-Defamation League as anti-government extremists who are part of the militia movement. 

"We aren't training for any violence, we just want to keep this country the way that it is," he said, when asked if he thought the training encouraged acts like the plot to kidnap Governor Whitmer. 

The FBI became aware of the scheme, first reported by The Detroit News, in early 2020 through a social media group of individuals who were discussing the violent overthrow of certain government and law-enforcement components, according to the criminal complaint.

"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 US Constitution," including the government of Michigan and Whitmer, according to the complaint.

Court documents say the FBI planted an undercover agent to travel to Dublin, Ohio, on June 6 for a meeting with Croft, Fox and about 13 others.

"They discussed different ways of achieving this goal from peaceful endeavors to violent actions ... Several members talked about murdering 'tyrants' or 'taking' a sitting governor," according to the complaint.

At one point during the meeting, the group discussed increasing their members and Fox reached out to a "Michigan base militia group," according to the complaint.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers reacted to the news in a statement: 

"Gretchen’s a good friend and she’s been a great partner during this difficult year, so Kathy and I are glad she’s safe and we’re thinking of her and her family. I know Gretchen cares a lot about the people of her state and she’s been working hard to keep everyone healthy and safe. These are alarming allegations and this kind of behavior shouldn’t be tolerated—not in Michigan, not in Wisconsin, not anywhere in our country.”
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