GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Training and a speech by one of the suspects are featured in a batch of videos and images released Friday, the last day of a federal hearing in the alleged plot to kidnap Michigan’s governor.
One video shows people, dressed in military gear, exiting a vehicle and firing rounds from guns off into the distance.
U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge released exhibits that were introduced as evidence this week for five men facing federal charges in the case. The exhibits were presented during a two-day hearing before U.S. District Magistrate Judge Sally Berens.
On Friday, Oct. 16, Berens ordered that the cases be presented to a grand jury.
Adam Fox, 37, of Grand Rapids, Ty Garbin, 24, of Hartland Township, Kaleb Franks, 26, of Waterford, Daniel Harris, 23, of Lake Orion and Brandon Caserta, 33, of Canton, are named in a criminal complaint.
Barry Croft, 44, of Delaware, who is also named in the complaint, is awaiting his initial appearance in Grand Rapids federal court. He and Fox were portrayed as leaders of the group.
All are held without bond.
In releasing the photos and videos — including screenshots of text and other messaging — federal prosecutors did not offer descriptions of the exhibits.
One video shows people dressed in military gear exiting a vehicle, armed with what appears to be assault rifles and firing into the distance. Two other videos show men appearing to train for speed in reloading assault rifles.
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Yet another video shows a man triggering a Taser, with electrical pulses visible.
The longest video shows suspect Brandon Caserta speaking to a camera and talking about taking out “government thugs that rob people everyday.”
“If this whole things starts to happen, I’m telling you what dude, I’m taking out as many of those m—– f—— as I can. Every single one. Every single one,” he says.
Eight other people are facing state charges in the case.
The government says the defendants are members of the Wolverine Watchmen, a Michigan-based militia, that planned Whitmer’s kidnapping over the course of months.
Some surveilled her Northern Michigan home during the middle of the night.
The exhibits released showed the defendants in training. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nils Kessler said the videos showed the defendants preparing for the kidnapping of the governor.
Attorneys Gary Springstead and Mark Satawa, who are representing Garbin, and other attorneys said their clients are being prosecuted based on their interests in firearms and views about government.
The attorneys said there are hundreds or thousands of hours of video and audio obtained by the FBI, who relied on two confidential informants to gather real-time information.
They said the government only provided at the hearing evidence against the defendants while they think there is exculpatory evidence among other recordings.
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Satawa said his client’s First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly and Second Amendment rights to bear firearms were violated in the investigation.
Eight others are facing state charges: Paul Bellar, 21, of Milford; Shawn Fix, 38, of Belleville; Eric Molitor, 36, of Cadillac; Michael Null, 38, of Plainwell; William Null, 38, of Shelbyville; and roommates Pete Musico, 42, and Joseph Morrison, 26, of Munith, and Brian Higgins, 51, of Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.
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