Local Authorities Had Interaction With Some Militia Members
October 9, 2020
By Jessica Mathews & Jon King / firstname.lastname@example.org
It appears some of those arrested Wednesday in connection with a plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer have had interactions with local authorities.
13 people with ties to the militia group Wolverine Watchmen are in custody. Six are charged federally in a plot to kidnap the governor including 24-year-old Ty Garbin of Hartland Township whose home was raided by FBI agents. The state has charged seven people under Michigan’s anti-terrorism law with ties to the plot, including 21-year-old Paul Bellar of Milford. The militia was said to be founded by 42-year-old Pete Musico and 26-year-old Joseph Morrison, who live together in Munith.
The Livingston County Sheriff’s Office has had contact with four of the suspects. Sheriff Mike Murphy told WHMI the contacts with Garbin, Bellar and Musico were "all incidental contacts, for example, a witness, pawned property, citizen assist, that type of thing." As for Morrison, he was arrested for drunk driving and a probation violation, while Franks was arrested for a probation violation, as well as retail fraud and heroin possession. Murphy noted the FBI did inform them prior to the raid in Hartland Township.
Federal prosecutors said the militia group was already on the FBI's radar this past March for attempting to obtain the addresses of local law enforcement officers. One member had concerns about the group’s plans to target and kill police officers and became a confidential source.
Hours after police foiled the alleged plot to kidnap her, Whitmer argued in a speech that President Donald Trump’s words had been a “rallying cry” for extremists. Whitmer, a Democrat, said the Republican president has spent the last seven months of the coronavirus pandemic “denying science, ignoring his own health experts, stoking distrust, fomenting anger and giving comfort to those who spread fear and hatred and division.” She singled out Trump’s debate comments when he didn’t condemn white supremacist groups and told one far-right extremist group to "stand back and stand by”.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has criticized the Governor’s remarks, saying she's sowing division with outlandish allegations. Whitmer’s full remarks are attached.