Wisconsin man is 14th to face charges in alleged Whitmer kidnap plot
LANSING — A Wisconsin man faces state charges in connection with an alleged kidnapping plot targeting Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a spokesman for Attorney General Dana Nessel said Thursday.
The new defendant — the eighth charged by Nessel — brings the total number of state and federal defendants in the case to 14.
Brian Higgins, 51, of Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, is charged with material support of an act of terrorism, a 20-year felony, Nessel's office said in a news release. 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 for arraignment in Antrim County 86th District Court, the release said. Court dates have not been scheduled.
The is in addition to charges filed against 13 men earlier — six charged by the federal government with conspiracy to kidnap and seven charged by Nessel with charges including assisting terrorism, gang membership, and possession of a firearm in commission of a felony.
More:New and shocking details revealed at hearing for Gov. Whitmer kidnap plot
More:Defense says Gov. Whitmer kidnap plot was just 'big talk between crackpots'
“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 Grand Rapids, 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.
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.
Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @paulegan4. Read more on Michigan politics and sign up for our elections newsletter.