by John Flesher and Anna Liz Nichols
LANSING, Michigan (AP) — Michigan’s attorney general charged an eighth person Thursday in what authorities have described as a foiled scheme to storm the state Capitol building and kidnap officials, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Brian Higgins, 51, of Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, was charged with material support of an act of terrorism, Attorney General Dana Nessel said. If convicted, Higgins could get up to 20 years in prison.
Seven men purportedly linked to a paramilitary group called the Wolverine Watchmen were charged in state court last week with providing material support for terrorist acts and possession of a firearm while committing a felony.
Federal charges were filed against six others in the alleged conspiracy to kidnap Whitmer.
“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.”
A Michigan State Police affidavit said Higgins assisted four members of an extremist paramilitary organization called the Wolverine Watchmen who took part in surveillance of Whitmer’s vacation home in northern Michigan. Higgins provided night-vision goggles for the mission, the document said.
“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,” it said.
The state suspects are accused of planning and training to attack the Capitol in Lansing and target law enforcement officers “to instigate a civil war leading to societal collapse,” Nessel said.
Higgins was arrested Thursday in Wisconsin and will be extradited to Michigan, she said.
A spokesman for Nessel said it was uncertain whether Higgins had an attorney. He was being held in the Columbia County Jail in Wisconsin.
An FBI affidavit said the men who plotted to kidnap Whitmer had discussed taking her to Wisconsin for “trial.”
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John Flesher and Anna Liz Nichols are reporters for The Associated Press. Flesher reported from Traverse City, Michigan. Anna Liz Nichols is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.