The leader of a plot to abduct Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer inspected a bridge for where to plant explosives so the group could delay police response to the kidnapping scene, FBI agents said.
Adam Fox, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, Brandon Caserta and Barry Croft were named in the criminal complaint. Charges were later announced against Paul Bellar, Shawn Fix, Eric Molitor, Michael Null, William Null, Pete Musico and Joseph Morrison.
Through confidential informants and undercover agents, the FBI monitored the plot for several months. Part of the plan included destroying a bridge so police wouldn’t be able to get to the kidnapping scene as quickly.
The first mention of the bridge in the criminal complaint refers to an Aug. 30 exchange between Garbin and an FBI informant. The informant had joined Fox and another person while surveilling Whitmer’s vacation home the day before, officials said.
Fox shared the photos from their surveillance trip with a larger group, and Garbin texted the informant to ask how the trip had gone, court records say.
The informant sent a screenshot of a map of the area, which included a bridge in the area, officials said. Authorities said Garbin responded with emojis, saying, “If the (bridge emoji) goes (finger pointing down emoji), it also (X emoji) the “wave emoji).”
FBI agents said message was suggesting if they demolished the bridge, it would slow down a police response.
On the night of Sept. 12, while driving from Garbin’s property in Luther, Michigan, to the vacation house for further surveillance, a car holding Fox, Croft, the informant, an undercover FBI agent and a person from Wisconsin stopped at the M-31 highway bridge, according to authorities.
During the drive, Croft and Fox had discussed detonating explosive devices to divert police from the area of the vacation home, court documents read.
When they stopped, Fox and the undercover agent inspected the underside of the bridge for places to set an explosive charge, officials said.
Fox took a picture of the underside of the bridge’s support structure and later shared it with the FBI informant in an encrypted chat, according to the criminal complaint.
The following morning, while finalizing plans for the kidnapping, the undercover agent told Fox it would cost around $4,000 to procure the explosives Fox and Croft wanted to use to blow up the bridge, authorities said.
Fox later shared that information with the larger group, court records show.
FBI agents mentioned members of the group experimenting with homemade improvised explosive devices during firearms and combat training sessions over the weekend of July 10-12 in Cambria, Wisconsin, and over the weekend of Sept. 12-13 in Luther.