BELLAIRE — Investigators arrested a 14th man they say is linked to what investigators described as a plot to kidnap and execute Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Brian Higgins, 51, faces extradition from Wisconsin after a warrant for his arrest was filed in Antrim County on Tuesday. Wisconsin law enforcement officers have Higgins in custody, and he awaits extradition proceedings, according to Michigan Attorney General’s Office Spokesperson Ryan Jarvi.
Typically, extradition can take anywhere from a week if things go smoothly to a month if Higgins opts to challenge the move, said Antrim County Sheriff Dan Bean.
Higgins and his accused allies, some who investigators say are members of the group Wolverine Watchmen, are accused of plotting to first storm the state Capitol and gun down security officers, federal court documents show. The plan later evolved to focus on Whitmer’s northern Michigan vacation home, where members are accused engaging in several bouts of surveillance and planning to conduct the kidnapping.
In a release, Attorney General Dana Nessel refers to the plot as “a plan of domestic terrorism,” and “very credible, and very serious threats.”
The months-long investigation leading to the bust was conducted jointly by the Michigan State Police and FBI.
Higgins is the eighth man who will face state charges, Nessel’s release states. Six other men, including accused ringleader Adam Fox, face charges in U.S. District Court.
Eleven of the 14 have been arraigned — alongside Higgins is 21-year-old Paul Bellar, who awaits extradition from South Carolina, according to the AG’s office. Another man to face federal charges awaits extradition from Delaware.
A federal affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Richard J. Trask II details the group’s aims to abduct Whitmer and flee to Wisconsin, where the group planned to hold a “mock trial” for what they told investigators was Whitmer’s unconstitutional abuses of power. The group planned to execute Whitmer after the trial, according to court records.
The investigation hinged on both FBI informants and undercover agents, according to Trask’s affidavit. The document detailed meetings in a “secret bunker” under Fox’s workplace, multiple meetings for firearms training sessions and plans to bomb a bridge near Whitmer’s part-time home in order to slow police response.
Higgins, a Wisconsin Dells man, is accused of aiding in the plot, which Whitmer condemned as “sick and depraved” last week.
Traverse City Attorney Paul Jarboe, coordinator of the Michigan Indigent Defense Council for Grand Traverse and Antrim counties, said he had not been notified of any additional arrests in the case Thursday.
Jarboe attended the arraignments of four others charged in Antrim County, though all four defendants later retained private counsel, he said.
As a precautionary measure, Jarboe said he requested additional funding from Antrim County Commissioners, should it be necessary to provide court-appointed counsel, which commissioners approved.
“The volume of the material of these case files is large,” Jarboe said. “Whoever takes these cases, they’re going to have to spend a lot of time.”
The other four arraigned locally this month are 38-year-old Belleview resident Shawn Fix; Eric Molitar, a 36-year-old Cadillac man; and 38-year-old twin brothers Michael and William Null, of Plainwell and Shelbyville, respectively.
Each faces one count of providing material support for terrorist acts and one count of felony firearm possession, 86th District Court records show, and those four will return to court Oct. 28 for a joint preliminary exam, Jarboe said previously.
The Nulls and Fix were each held on $250,000 cash bonds, and Molitor was issued a $250,000, 10 percent bond.
Associated Press reports have also linked the men to a similar plot against Virginia’s governor, and at least two of the accused have appeared at state Capitol protests, the Record-Eagle previously reported.
Charges could be amended as investigations continue, according to the AG’s Office release.
Higgins’ arraignment has yet to be scheduled.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.