Two of the men arrested for an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during the COVID-19 pandemic had discussed a similar attack on Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, according to federal court documents filed Monday.
Federal prosecutors said Adam Dean Fox and Barry Gordon Croft Jr., both of whom could face life in prison if convicted of conspiracy to kidnap Whitmer, floated other possible targets at a June 6, 2020 meeting in Dublin Ohio.
They included DeWine, a Republican, and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, prosecutors wrote Monday.
“Croft brought and displayed to the group an improvised explosive device he had constructed for the purpose,” according to court documents. “Croft referred to himself as a ‘terrorist’ who was going to ‘burn mother***ing houses down, blow **** up.’”
The pair and an extended network of largely Michigan-based militia members appeared to settle on Whitmer, a Democrat whose strict, early lockdown measures attracted widespread criticism from conservatives. But their group of would-be terrorists included a federal informant, according to court documents.
Six members of the alleged conspiracy would be arrested October 2020 following an FBI investigation into their activities, which had included live-fire “field training exercises” and other preparations, including the surveillance of Whitmer’s vacation house and the exchange of encrypted messages.
During one training event, “they practiced assaulting a building in teams, and discussed tactics for fighting the governor’s security detail with improvised explosive devices, a projectile launcher, and other weapons,” according to their federal indictment.
They also discussed destroying a highway bridge near Whitmer’s house to prevent law enforcement from responding, the Associated Press reported.
In October 2020, after the arrests, federal officials disclosed that some conspirators had met with one another in Ohio but did not immediately publicize their discussion about targeting DeWine.
In an Oct. 8 news conference, DeWine called the plot against Whitmer “a despicable act” and urged other politicians to publicly condemn it.
“Everyone has to denounce this,” he said. “If you want to talk about our political process, this is outside our political process."