6 indicted in Whitmer kidnapping plot; feds say 1 called for killing police officers

Grand jury idictment claims man gave co-conspirators message to kill police if necessary

We know the stories of their alleged planned exploits -- surveilling Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s home and using encrypted communications as they looked to train for a deadly assault, and allegedly trying to purchase explosives to carry out the kidnapping.

The six men involved in the plot allegedly were part of a militia group called the Wolverine Watchmen.

We know the stories of their alleged planned exploits -- surveilling Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s home and using encrypted communications as they looked to train for a deadly assault, and allegedly trying to purchase explosives to carry out the kidnapping.

Brandon Caserta (WDIV)

There is a new twist: A grand jury indictment claims that Brandon Michael-Ray Caserta, of Canton Township, instructed his co-conspirators in an encrypted video message that if they encountered police during the recognizance “they should give the officers one opportunity to leave, and kill them if they did not comply.”

Related: Domestic terror plot leader wanted to leave Whitmer on boat in middle of Lake Michigan, FBI says

The feds also claim that came several months after the original plan was hatched to not only try to kidnap Gov. Whitmer but also other governors making similar shutdown orders in their states.

The indictment points to the lengths the Wolverine Watchmen went to carry out their plot including field training exercises with combat tactics including:

  • Assaulting motor vehicles using assault rifles and live ammunition
  • Attempting to detonate two improvised explosive devices
  • Detonating an explosive device containing shrapnel near human silhouette targets hung by the conspirators to assess its effectiveness

The grand jury indictment says all of this went on between June and October of this year and that there were extensive communications that were encrypted, that they had gone to a lot of trouble to try to prevent FBI infiltration of the group. However, that’s exactly how the FBI says the group was caught -- that there was FBI infiltration and they were arrested after they pooled their money and tried to buy explosives.

From left to right: Adam Fox, Ty Garbin, Daniel Harris, Kaleb Franks and Brandon Caserta. (WDIV)

Five Michigan residents -- Adam Fox, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Caserta -- and Barry Croft, of Delaware, were charged with conspiring to kidnap Whitmer.

The defense is saying this is not true and that this is just a lot of talk.

Read more: ‘Crackpots’: How attorneys plan to defend Michigan men accused in Gov. Whitmer kidnapping plot

Here’s a look at the full indictment filed Dec. 16, 2020:



Extradition delayed for Wisconsin man charged in kidnap plot

A Wisconsin man accused the plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer should be extradited to Michigan, but he will be given a chance to appeal first, a judge ruled.

Brian Higgins was allegedly part of a crew conducting surveillance of the governor’s vacation home for the kidnapping plot. He is charged with material support of an act of terrorism.

The Wisconsin Dells man, 52, is jailed in Columbia County until the appeal of his extradition is decided.

In October, Higgins became the 14th person in connection with the alleged domestic terror plot targeting Whitmer.

Read more here.


About the Author:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.