The men were also plotting to overthrow state governments, including Michigan, as they believed that the states were violating the US Constitution.
Federal and state officials have charged 13 men who were planning to abduct the Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Their plot included overthrowing state governments that the suspects "believe are violating the US Constitution," including the government of Michigan, according to a federal criminal complaint cited by CNN. Six of the suspects had a detailed plan to kidnap Whitmer, a Democrat, as per The New York Times.
While six of them were charged by federal authorities for their plot to kidnap, seven others linked to the militia group Wolverine Watchmen were charged by the state, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced. The federal government charged Michigan residents Adam Fox, 37, Ty Garbin, 24, Kaleb Franks, 26, Daniel Harris, 23, Brandon Caserta, 32, and Delaware resident Barry Croft, 44. The state charged Paul Bellar, 21, Shawn Fix, 38, Eric Molitor, 36, Michael Null, 38, William Null, 38, Pete Musico, 42, Joseph Morrison, 42. They are facing multiple firearm possession and terror charges.
"The individuals in (state) custody are suspected to have attempted to identify the home addresses of law enforcement officers in order to target them, made threats of violence intended to instigate a civil war, and engaged in planning and training for an operation to attack the capitol building of Michigan and to kidnap government officials, including the governor of Michigan," Nessel said at a press conference, as per CNN.
The shocking events were addressed by Whitmer, who has been facing backlash from far-right groups over her handling of the pandemic. The Governor said, "This is unlike anything we have seen before. The brave men and women of these two police organizations put their lives on the line to keep me and my family safe. I'm incredibly grateful and humbled by the work they do."
She also spoke about the difficulties she is facing to outpace what she had anticipated. As a mom to two daughters, and stepmom to three sons, this could only have shaken her and made her fearful about her family.
She said she "knew this job would be hard, but I'll be honest, I never could've imagined anything like this." She also criticized US President Donald Trump over the way he addressed hate groups in the past. "Just last week, the President of the United States stood before the American people and refused to condemn white supremacists and hate groups like these two Michigan militia groups," she said.
"'Stand back and stand by,' he told them. 'Stand back and stand by.' Hate groups heard the President's words not as a rebuke, but as a rallying cry, as a call to action. When our leaders speak, their words matter. They carry weight," said Whitmer.