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How the FBI stopped the 'violent overthrow' and kidnapping of Gov. Whitmer

The FBI seal is attached to a podium at FBI Headquarters, in Washington, D.C. in this file photo from June 14, 2018. (SGB/Getty Images, Mark Wilson)
The FBI seal is attached to a podium at FBI Headquarters, in Washington, D.C. in this file photo from June 14, 2018. (SGB/Getty Images, Mark Wilson)
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Through social media, federal officials started looking into a group of people who “were discussing the violent overthrow of certain government and law-enforcement components,” according to the criminal complaint filed this week.

Thirteen people are now charged with the plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and storm the state Capitol.


Below is a timeline of their plan, based on the court documents obtained by News Channel 3.

March 2020

Local police notify the FBI of a militia group that is seeking personal information about police officers. A confidential informant, concerned by the plans, begins helping the investigation.


About a dozen people from several states meet in Dublin, Ohio, on June 6, and a confidential source tells the FBI that several members of the group “talked about murdering ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ a sitting governor.”

The criminal complaint claims the group then spoke of increasing membership by talking to neighbors and spreading the message. A Michigan-based militia group was contacted as part of that recruitment effort.

By June 14, one of the founders of the militia group said he was introduced to a member of the group that met in Dublin, Ohio — Adam Fox. A second confidential informant notifies the FBI that the two planned to meet at Fox’s businesses in Grand Rapids, Michigan, later that week.

Meanwhile field-training exercises were held “on private property in remote areas of Michigan.”

Fox, along with Barry Croft, met with the militia group during the month.


An audio recording from one of those meetings, during a Second Amendment rally at the state Capitol on June 18, captures Fox telling another group member, Ty Garbin, that he, “planned to attack the Capitol” and was looking to “combine forces.”

On June 20, the second confidential informant meets with other members of the group at Fox’s business. As a security measure, Fox has the group meet in his shop’s basement, accessed through a trap door hidden under a rug.

The complaint claims that cell phones were collected, but the informant was wearing an audio-recording device.

Attendees then spoke of how to combat law enforcement and first responders during the attack, planning to use “Molotov cocktails to destroy police vehicles.”

A private livestream shared among a Facebook group June 25 features Fox complaining about the governor “controlling the opening of gyms.”

“Fox referred to Governor Whitmer as ‘this tyrant b*****’ and stated, ‘I don’t know, boys, we gotta do something. You guys link with me on our other location system, give me some ideas of what we can do.’” — Adam Fox statement on an FBI-preserved Facebook Live private group chat (Criminal Complaint)

A few days later, June 28, a group that included Fox’s girlfriend and others during a tactical training “were told to leave if they were not willing to participate in attacks against the government and in killing politicians.”


Organizers meet over the July 10-12 weekend in Cambria, Wisconsin, where firearms training and combat drills continued.

Some members wanted to build an improvised explosive device (IED) using BBs as shrapnel, though they were “faulty.” The FBI states a video of the test explosion was taken.

Facebook discussions that included other video and photos from the gathering were also provided by a confidential source.

By July 18, the group met again in Ohio and discussed attacking Whitmer’s personal vacation home and official summer residence in Western Michigan.

On July 24, code phrases like “make a cake and sent it” were used by Fox to describe what informants thought was a reference to sending a bomb to Gov. Whitmer.

In a recorded call that day, Fox spoke of not caring and wanting, “to make the world glow.”

“That’s what it’s gonna take for us to take it back, we’re just gonna have to everything’s gonna have to be annihilated man. We’re gonna topple it all, dude. It’s what great frickin’ conquerors, man, we’re gonna conquer every f*****’ thing man.” — Fox, during a recorded phone call July 24 to other group members planning the attacks (Criminal complaint)

By July 26, Fox told undercover informants that he didn’t hear back from the baker, which was understood to be an explosives manufacturer. “Maybe we should make a bunch of cupcakes and send them out,” Fox said.

An audio recording of another meeting July 27 planning the kidnapping was given to the FBI from their confidential source.

Fox described the attack as a good opportunity to abduct the governor, “Snatch and grab, man. Grab the f*****’ governor. Just grab the b****. Because at that point, we do that dude – it’s over.”

The group planned to take her to a secure location in Wisconsin for what was described as a trial.

More plans were made, including casing her residences in Western Michigan.

Fox posted a message on a private Facebook page the following day claiming the group was about to be busy, “This is where the Patriot shows up. Sacrifices his time, money, blood sweat and tears it starts now so get f****** prepared!”


A training in Munith, Michigan, on Aug. 9 included audio from an informant that included a group call discussing the possibility of sabotaging the governor’s boat and gathering information on her primary residence in Lansing.

Afterward, using an encrypted group chat service, a member suggested shooting the governor at her doorstep.

During another encrypted group chat Aug. 18, people in the group spoke of finding escape routes using nearby waterways close to the governor’s vacation home.

In an audio recording from an Aug 23 meeting in Lake Orion, Michigan, the group discussed concerns that law enforcement would infiltrate the group, requiring people to bring paperwork to confirm their identities. More surveillance on the governor’s vacation home was discussed and the group decided to move discussions to an encrypted messaging service.

By Aug 29, members were surveilling Whitmer’s vacation home, sending photos and video to each other and making plans to survey the location from the water. The group also planned how long it would take law enforcement to respond to an incident there.

Fox shared photos from the surveillance with the encrypted chat group Aug 30.

Chatter among group members that day includes the suggestion to take down a bridge to stop a police response to Whitmer’s residence.


During a weekend field training Sept. 12-13 in Luther, Michigan, the possibility of an IED made of household goods is discussed and tested.

More people are advised to conduct nighttime surveillance to prepare for the kidnapping.

During this overnight trip, Sept. 12-13, the group stops at the M-31 bridge to see if an explosive charge could be an option in their plan.

Internal and external footage from the car dash camera footage provided to the FBI shows GPS data confirms the group was looking through the neighborhood of the governor’s vacation home.

Comments made by Fox during the surveillance mission referred to the governor having “uncontrolled power right now.” Barry Croft, also named in the complaint, was quoted as saying “all good things must come to an end.” Fox continued, claiming other states should take “their tyrants.”

By the morning of Sept. 13, the group confirms who will be involved in the kidnapping of the governor. An undercover FBI agent was contacted by Fox about how much it would cost to blow up the bridge that leads to the governor’s vacation home.

A price of $4,000 is quoted by the agent.

On Sept. 14, planning continues for the final training week over the group’s encrypted chat message. Fox didn’t think the end of October was a good time, because it was too close to Election Day on Nov. 3.

A few days later, Fox asked the group over encrypted message about including a militia group to join in an armed protest at the Michigan State Capitol.

The idea was shot down, with member Caserta writing, “When the time comes there will be no need to try and strike fear through presence. The fear will be manifested through bullets.”

In a recorded phone call with a confidential informant Sept. 30, Fox spoke of buying a taser for the kidnapping.


Fox tells the confidential informant Oct. 2 he bought an 800,000-volt taser.

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The FBI reviews recent encrypted messages that details plans to meet with the undercover agent offering explosives Oct. 7.

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