Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has drawn opposition for her anti-pandemic measures placed in Michigan. File Photo courtesy of the Office of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
Oct. 16 (UPI) -- Authorities in Michigan said they have arrested a 14th person charged in the domestic terrorism plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
The state's Attorney General Dana Nessel announced in a release Thursday that Brian Higgins, 51, of Wisconsin Dells, Wis., has been charged "for his alleged participation in a plan of domestic terrorism that included storming the Michigan Capitol building and harming government officials."
Higgins was arrested Thursday in Wisconsin and is awaiting extradited to Michigan where he will be arraigned on one count of providing material assistance to the terrorist plot to kidnap Whitmer. If convicted on the terrorism charge, Higgins faces up to 20 years in prison.
According to an affidavit in support of the complaint, Higgins aided in the surveillance of the Democratic governor's private vacation home.
"Brian Higgins and others provided material support and resources in the furtherance of terrorist acts," the document said. "In particular Brian Higgins, while on a nighttime surveillance of the Governor's home, provided the use of his night-vision goggles for the surveillance. 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 is the eighth person to be charged by Michigan's attorney general's office after seven people were charged and arrested on Oct. 8. All were members or associates of the extreme right-wing militia Wolverine Watchmen. That same day, the FBI announced charges against six men connected to militia groups for their involvement in the plot to "take violent action against multiple state governments that they believe are violating the U.S. Constitution," the criminal complaint said.
"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 sort of heroic."
The seven charged by Michigan last week have been accused of calling on members of the Wolverine Watchmen to identify the home addresses of law enforcement officers in order to target them. They also "made threats of violence to instigate a civil war leading to societal collapse," the release from the attorney general's offices said.
The state has filed a total of 20 felony charges against the eight defendants.
The plot to kidnap Whitmer included recruiting hundreds of people to storm the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing prior to the Nov. 3 election and take Whitmer hostage and put her on trial for "treason," agents said.
On Tuesday, an FBI agent told a federal court in Grand Rapids that the men charged with plotting to kidnap Whitmer also discussed abducting Ralph Northam, Virginia's Democratic governor.