Men charged in plot to kidnap Gov. Whitmer spotted in photo at Capitol gun rally

Darcie Moran
Detroit Free Press

A photo posted by a state senator showed that two of the men accused in a plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer made their way into the Michigan Capitol in April, apparently as part of a noisy anti-Whitmer demonstration of gun-toting agitators.  

At least one of the arrested Null twins, either Michael or William, and another kidnap-plot arrestee are shown together in a photo posted April 30 to Twitter by state Sen. Dayna Polehanki, said Kelly Rossman-McKinney, spokeswoman for Attorney General Dana Nessel, confirming a Free Press inquiry via text message.

The two confirmed plot arrestees in photo are shown first and third in a line of four men, she said.

Michael and William Null, both 38 — and residents of Plainwell and Shelbyville, respectively — are among 13 men charged in connection with a militia-orchestrated plot to kidnap Whitmer and, according to legal documents, put her on trial for treason.

Because the two are twins, it was not immediately known who was shown in the tweeted photo, Rossman-McKinney said Thursday. Nor was it clear who was the other arrestee shown in the photo. 

The photo shows armed men on a balcony inside the Capitol building. On the same day it was posted, demonstrators crowded into the building amid protests of the governor’s stay-at-home orders and state-of-emergency executive orders.

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William Null faces terrorism and firearms charges following an investigation into a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

In Polehanki's tweet, the Democrat from Livonia wrote: “Directly above me, men with rifles yelling at us. Some of my colleagues who own bullet proof vests are wearing them. I have never appreciated our Sergeants-at-Arms more than today."

Officials say the 13 men arrested this week in the kidnapping plot are all members or acquaintances of the Wolverine Watchmen militia group.

In addition, all have been tied to a larger, almost inconceivable scheme — attempting to foment a civil war — according to investigators.

Members of the group had discussed storming the Capitol Building to kidnap Whitmer and other would-be hostages, considered shooting up Whitmer’s home, discussed setting off a bomb to divert police away from the kidnapping, tested an explosive and begun training to achieve those ends, according to officials and court records Thursday.

They also met at a June rally at the Capitol, records showed. 

Michael and William Null face charges at the state level for providing material to support a terrorist act and for carrying a firearm in the commission of a felony. 

Five other men were also charged at the state level: Paul Bellar, 21, of Milford; Shawn Fix, 38, of Belleville; Eric Molitor, 36, of Cadillac; Pete Musico, 42, of Munith; and Joseph Morrison, 26, also of Munith.

Michael Null faces terrorism and firearms charges following an investigation into a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Six more men face a federal charge of conspiracy to commit kidnapping. They are Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta. All of those charged federally are from Michigan except Croft, who is a resident of Delaware, according to a criminal complaint.

Polehanki acknowledged the incidents at the Capitol in a press release on Thursday. She joined other Democrats in calling for legislation to ban guns from the building.

“I was shaken to my core the day armed gunmen casually stood over us in the Michigan Senate, taunting and intimidating us, and I am again shaken, beyond belief, by today’s news,” she said.

“While we are thankful to the state and federal agencies involved in thwarting these verifiable threats against public servants, I cannot overstate how much we need to change now before there is a next time — because there will be one — and God forbid if there are children present when it happens.”

Darcie Moran is a breaking news reporter and podcaster for the Detroit Free Press. She's served as an investigative reporter and covered justice issues, crime, protests, wildfires and government affairs. Contact Moran: dmoran@freepress.com. Twitter: @darciegmoran

Staff writer Bill Laitner contributed to this story

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