A Wisconsin man is facing charges in Michigan in connection with an alleged kidnapping plot targeting Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a spokesman for Michigan’s attorney general said Thursday.
The new defendant brings the total number of defendants in the case to 14.
Brian Higgins, 51, of Wisconsin Dells, is charged with material support of an act of terrorism, a 20-year felony, according to a news release from the Michigan Attorney General’s Office.
Higgins allegedly helped in the plan to kidnap Whitmer from her vacation home.
Specifically, Higgins “provided the use of his night-vision goggles for the surveillance” of the cottage, according to an affidavit. “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 Thursday in Wisconsin and will be extradited to Michigan to be arraigned in Antrim County 86th District Court on the charge, the release said. Court dates have not been scheduled.
The new charge is in addition to 13 men charged earlier. Six were charged by the federal government with conspiracy to kidnap. Seven were charged by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel with assisting terrorism, gang membership, possession of a firearm in commission of a felony and other charges.
“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,” Nessel said.
“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.”
According to testimony at a federal hearing in Detroit, members of an armed anti-government group discussed a number of kidnapping scenarios involving Whitmer and were increasingly focused on abducting the governor from her family’s summer cottage in northern Michigan. The defendants had conducted two surveillance missions outside the cottage and conducted other planning and training that included drawing a map, officials say.
Federal agents say the plan was to bring Whitmer to a site in Wisconsin where they would try her for treason.
According to an affidavit filed in Michigan federal court, the group came to Wisconsin for three days in July, where they engaged in firearms and combat training, and tried to build two bombs that failed to detonate.
In announcing charges earlier against the state defendants, on Oct. 8, Nessel said members of the Wolverine Watchmen — a self-described militia group now accused of domestic terrorism — did not just plot to kidnap Whitmer, but wanted to attack the state Capitol and target police officers at their homes as part of a broader mission to instigate a civil war.