The conspiracy to target Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer for kidnap and assassination unfolded over a six-month period. The numbers in the text refer to the locations highlighted on the map.
April 15—Armed right-wing activists demonstrate in Lansing at the state Capitol against the coronavirus lockdown orders issued by Governor Whitmer.
April 30—Heavily armed right-wing activists demonstrate in Lansing and occupy the balcony inside the state Capitol building, overlooking the legislators. Several of the future conspirators, including Michael and William Null, are in the group carrying assault rifles.
May 18—Armed right-wing activists rally in Grand Rapids against the coronavirus lockdown, where they are addressed by Dar Leaf, sheriff of nearby Barry County, who has vowed not to enforce Whitmer’s orders. William Null is in attendance, providing security.
June 6—Adam Fox, Barry Croft and a dozen other people from several states meet in Dublin, Ohio, in the suburbs of Columbus, to discuss action against the coronavirus lockdowns in many states. Fox and Croft organize the meeting after getting in contact with each other online. There is discussion about killing “tyrants” and “taking” a current governor. A key next step decided on is to make contact with a local Michigan militia group to get reinforcements.
June 18—Fox, Garbin and leaders of the Wolverine Watchmen attend a gun rights rally at the state Capitol in Lansing, apparently meeting face to face for the first time. Fox expresses the desire to recruit 200 men to storm the Capitol, take hostages from the state legislature and top officials, including Whitmer, and try her for treason.
June 20—Fox hosts a meeting in the basement of the Vac Shack, where he works and lives. He collects the cell phones of all participants but does not detect the listening device worn by an FBI informant, who records the meeting. They discuss plans to attack the state Capitol and use Molotov cocktails to destroy police vehicles which respond. They decide to begin firearms and tactical training in July.
June 28—Fox and his group, including Garbin, Kaleb Franks, and Brandon Caserta, attend a tactical training session in Munith, at the home of Peter Musico and Joseph Morrison. Fox, Garbin and Caserta stay for a meeting to discuss attacks on the government and kidnapping of politicians.
July 10-12—At least five members of the group, including Fox, Franks, Croft, Garbin and Caserta, travel to Cambria, Wisconsin, 90 miles northwest of Milwaukee, for a weapons training session hosted by an ultraright militia activist. They participate in combat drills, and Croft, Garbin and others try to build an improvised explosive device, which fails to explode.
July 18—At another planning meeting in Ohio, Garbin proposes “shooting up” Whitmer’s vacation home in northern Michigan, saying the capitol is too difficult a target. Garbin, Fox, Croft, Harris and Franks also discuss attacking a Michigan State Police facility.
July 27-28—Fox decides to switch the target of planning to kidnapping Whitmer at her vacation home in northern Michigan, and communicates this proposal to the other members of the group, who accept it.
August 9—Fox, Franks, Harris and other militia members participate in further tactical training in Munith, this time with an attack on Whitmer’s vacation home as the main project. According to an informant, Harris proposes simply killing the governor, “Have one person go to her house. Knock on the door and when she answers it, just cap her....”
August 23—At a meeting at Harris’s home in Lake Orion, all attendees have to bring paperwork to prove their identities, and their discussions are shifted to a different encrypted messaging app because of fear of police infiltration. Franks announces that he has spent $4,000 on a helmet and night-vision goggles to be used in night-time surveillance of the governor’s vacation home.
August 29—Fox, Molitor and others locate Whitmer’s vacation home and take video and still photographs of it during a drive-by. They locate the nearest local and state police stations and calculate how long it would take the police to respond in the event of an alarm.
September 12-13—The six key participants in the proposed kidnapping travel to a property in Luther, Michigan, owned by Garbin’s family, located about 90 miles from the Whitmer vacation home, to conduct what amounts to a dress rehearsal. Two men from Wisconsin join them. Croft successfully detonates a bomb that would be used against a police pursuit after they seize Whitmer. Silhouettes have been set up in a perimeter around the bomb to determine its blast radius. They drive in three vehicles to the vacation home, where Croft proposes an immediate attack but is dissuaded. They conduct armed surveillance. After arriving back at the Luther property, Franks states, “Kidnapping, arson, death. I don’t care.” The next day, Fox posts in an encrypted chat that they cannot wait until late October but must take action earlier.
October 2—Ultraright activist Eric Allport, 43, is killed in a shootout with FBI agents outside a restaurant in Madison Heights, a suburb just north of Detroit, after they attempt to arrest him on weapons charges. Allport is a supporter of the “Boogaloo bois” and a former neighbor of white supremacist Randy Weaver, the lone survivor of the 1992 Ruby Ridge, Idaho siege in which federal agents killed his wife and son. Allport later served an 11-year prison sentence for shooting at police officers. He is not known to be tied to the conspiracy against Whitmer, but the incident may have triggered the decision by state and federal officials to arrest the group.
October 7—Federal and state police make arrests across Michigan, in Delaware and South Carolina, rounding up 13 men in total. The biggest raid is at the home of Ty Garbin in Hartland, where Garbin, Fox, Harris and Franks were to meet to pay for explosives and exchange tactical gear, a final step before the planned attack on Whitmer. The raids involve more than 200 local, state and federal agents.