8th person facing state charges in alleged Whitmer kidnapping plot

Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 10:54 AM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - An eighth person is facing state charges related to the alleged plot to kidnap or kill Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The Michigan Attorney General’s Office confirmed Thursday that a Wisconsin man is charged in connection with the alleged plot. That brings the total number of people charged in the alleged plot to 14.

The Attorney General’s Office identified the new suspect as 51-year-old Brian Higgins of Wisconsin Dells. He is charged with providing material support of a terrorist act, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

An police affidavit filed with the court alleges that Higgins took part in surveillance outside Whitmer’s vacation home in northern Michigan. He is accused of providing the use of night-vision goggles and recording activity on a dash mounted camera outside the home.

Police arrested Higgins in Wisconsin on Thursday and he will face extradition hearings in court there before coming to Michigan to face his charge in Antrim County, where five other suspects are charged in the plot.

State and federal investigators served a series of search warrants around Michigan on the evening of Oct. 7 and arrested a total of 13 people -- six on federal charges and seven on state charges. They all are accused of plotting to kidnap or kill Whitmer and storm state government facilities.

All allegedly were members of or associated with the Wolverine Watchmen group and were angry about Whitmer’s measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The FBI says undercover informants infiltrated the group and listened in on plans beginning last March, soon after the coronavirus pandemic reached Michigan. The suspects allegedly carried out surveillance of Whitmer’s northern Michigan vacation home and practiced tactical drills, including how to make improvised explosive devices.

Leaders of the alleged plot were attempting to recruit 200 people from militia groups to take part.

Investigators say the group planned to blow up a bridge near Whitmer’s vacation home, kidnap or kill her and storm the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing. The group also allegedly was plotting against Virginia’s governor.

An attorney representing one of the state suspects believes investigators took comments out of context.

Three of the six federal suspects appeared in court this week and were denied bond, meaning they will remain in jail while awaiting trial. They face up to life in prison if convicted.

The seven other state suspects all have been arraigned and some were scheduled for court hearings this week. They face up to 22 years or 42 years in prison if convicted.

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