Wisconsin Man Charged in Alleged Plot to Kidnap Michigan’s Governor

October 16, 2020 Updated: October 16, 2020

A Wisconsin man was charged this week for allegedly being part of a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Brian Higgins, 51, was on a nighttime surveillance mission of Whitmer’s vacation home, from which the group planned to abduct her, according to an affidavit.

“Brian Higgins, while on a nighttime surveillance of the Governor’s home, provided the use of his night-vision goggles for the surveillance,” Michigan State Police detective Michael Fink wrote.

“Additionally, he used a mounted digital dash camera located in his vehicle to record the surveillance of the Governor’s home in order to aid in kidnapping plans.”

Higgins was arrested on Thursday in Wisconsin, where he was arraigned. Authorities plan to extradite him to Michigan to face a state terrorism charge.

Higgins faces up to 20 years in jail.

It wasn’t clear whether the defendant had retained a lawyer.

“While the political rhetoric in our nation may at times be divisive, I am encouraged by the united front our law enforcement community has displayed in response to this indescribable act of terror,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement. “These were very credible, and very serious threats to our elected officials and the public in general, and the swift actions taken by state and federal authorities this past week are nothing short of heroic.”

gretchen whitmer
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the media about the flooding along the Tittabawassee River, after several dams breached, in downtown Midland, Mich., on May 20, 2020. (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)

Thirteen other men have been charged in the alleged plot, seven at the federal level, and six at the state level.

Some are members or associates of Wolverine Watchmen, a militia that threatened law enforcement and helped with plans to kidnap Whitmer, according to authorities.

Utilizing both undercover agents and spies, the FBI infiltrated the group, recording conversations and securing copies of encrypted chats, among other evidence.

A Wisconsin tie to the plot, which was centered in Michigan, was outlined in the federal complaint. On the weekend of July 10 to July 12, five of the men who were charged, along with others, attended a field training exercise in Cambria, according to the complaint.

Attendees participated in firearms training and other combat drills.

While there, several defendants were said to have tried to construct two separate improvised explosive devices. The construction of the devices was faulty and they did not detonate.

The group also trained in Texas, Ohio, and Michigan.

Lawyers for some of the men argued in court this week that the group did discuss certain things but would not have taken action, with one referring to them as “military wannabes.”

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