Two who served in the Marines are among those charged in plot to kidnap Michigan’s governor

Gretchen Whitmer
Mike Mulholland/Michigan Live/TNS/

Two of those charged in the alleged domestic terrorism plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer are former Marines, the Corps said.

Military records also confirm that Joseph Morrison and Daniel Harris served in the Corps.

Morrison, 42, continued to serve with the reserve forces until last week, the Marines said. His exit from the reserves is unrelated to the events in Michigan, they said.

“We are aware of the circumstances surrounding the two individuals and will assist the investigating authorities in any way we can,” a Marine Corps statement said. “The serious allegations are not a reflection of the Marine Corps, do not reflect the oath every Marine takes to support and defend the constitution, and do not align with our core values of honor, courage, and commitment.”

Morris joined the reserves in March 2015, earning the rank of lance corporal, and last served as an equipment mechanic with an engineer support company in Battle Creek, Michigan, his military personnel file said.

He counts the National Defense Service Medal among his honors, according to the file.

Harris, 23, was a rifleman with the Marine Corps from June 2015 to June 2019 and achieved the rank of corporal, his file said.

A rifleman, he last served at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and counted numerous medals among his honors, including the Good Conduct Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

13 face state or federal counts

Thirteen people were charged Thursday in the alleged plot, federal and state officials announced.

The alleged scheme included plans to overthrow several state governments that the suspects “believe are violating the US Constitution,” according to a federal criminal complaint.

Six people were charged federally with conspiracy to kidnap, and seven other people, associated with the militia group “Wolverine Watchmen,” were charged by the state, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said.

Harris was charged federally, while state authorities charged Morrison.

“The individuals in (state) custody are suspected to have attempted to identify the home addresses of law enforcement officers in order to target them, made threats of violence intended to instigate a civil war, and engaged in planning and training for an operation to attack the Capitol building of Michigan and to kidnap government officials, including the governor,” Nessel said.

The other five men that the federal government charged are Michigan residents Adam Fox, 37, Ty Garbin, 24, Kaleb Franks, 26, and Brandon Caserta, 32, along with Delaware resident Barry Croft, 44.

The six others charged by the state are Paul Bellar, 21, Shawn Fix, 38, Eric Molitor, 36, Michael Null, 38, William Null, 38, and Pete Musico, 42. They face a variety of firearm and terror charges.

The arrests underline warnings from law enforcement officials, Congress and groups tracking extremism about the rising threat of extremist and far-right groups. Whitmer has been the focus of vitriol from far-right groups over her handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the spring, armed protesters entered the state Capitol, where it is legal to openly carry firearms, and demanded an end to Michigan’s state of emergency.

Boogaloo supporters among arrests, source say

Fox reached out to a “Michigan-based militia group,” the criminal complaint said. After he was introduced to the group’s leader, he allegedly said he needed 200 men to storm the Capitol in Lansing and take Whitmer and others hostage, according to the complaint.

Fox said he would try the governor for treason before the November elections, the criminal complaint alleges.

“The attendees discussed plans for assaulting the Michigan State Capitol, countering law enforcement first responders, and using ‘Molotov cocktails’ to destroy police vehicles. The attendees also discussed plans for an additional meeting during the first weekend of July when they also would conduct firearms and tactical training,” the complaint said.

The five federal defendants from Michigan requested court-appointed attorneys. Bond hearings are slated for Tuesday. Croft, who is from Delaware, made an initial appearance in federal court and remains in custody. He is expected to be extradited to Michigan after a detention hearing, officials said.

Authorities believe several of the suspects arrested in the alleged plot are supporters of the Boogaloo movement, a law enforcement source involved in the investigation told CNN.

The Boogaloos are an emerging incarnation of extremism that seems to defy easy categorization. Boogaloo members appear to hold conflicting ideological views, with some identifying as anarchists and others rejecting formal titles. Some pockets of the group have espoused White supremacy while others reject it.