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Tag: kidnapping

Grand Jury Indicts 6 Men Accused of Plotting to Kidnap Michigan Gov. Whitmer

Six suspects accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Whitmer.

By Steve Neavling

A federal grand jury has indicted six men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. 

The indictment comes more than two months after the FBI arrested the suspects, who face up to life in prison on one count of kidnapping conspiracy. 

No trial date has been set. 

The indictment sheds new light on the case. One of the suspects, Brandon Caserta, 32, of Canton Township, instructed his co-conspirators in an encrypted video message that “if they encountered police during reconnaissance, they should give the officers one opportunity to leave, and kill them if they did not comply,” according to a court filing. 

The other indicted men are Adam Fox, 37, of Potterville; Ty Garbin, 25, of Hartland Township; Kaleb Franks, 26, of Waterford Township; Daniel Harris, 23, of Lake Orion; and Barry Croft, 44, of Delaware. An additional six suspects in the kidnapping plot were charged in state court. 

According to new filings, investigators raided sites in multiple states, including a firing range in northern Michigan and homes in metro Detroit. 

Federal prosecutors say the men were anti-government extremists who were incensed over Whitmer’s coronavirus restrictions. 

FBI Agent Wounded in Shootout in Louisiana ‘Expected to Make Full Recovery’

By Steve Neavling

An FBI agent is recovering after being wounded in a shootout with a murder and kidnapping suspect at a Louisiana motel last week.

The bureau on Friday declined to say whether the agent was still hospitalized, but said the unidentified agent “is in stable condition, in good spirits and is expected to make a full recovery,” NOLA.com reports

The agent, who worked out of the New Orleans Field Office, was among a coalition of local, state and federal law enforcement who tried to execute a search warrant on James David Hawley, 47, at a Pineville motel. After a several-hour standoff, the agent was struck by a bullet during a shootout with the suspect, the FBI said. 

Hawley is accused of kidnapping his ex-girlfriend, Thoue Nichole Bronowski, 45, after killing her mother Norma Matko, 69, of Belmont County. Authorities said he fled to Louisiana with Bronowski. 

The last agent from the New Orleans Field Office to be shot in the line of duty was wounded trying to arrest a kidnapping suspect at a Louisiana motel in May 2015. The agent survived. 

Men Charged in Plot to Kidnap Michigan Gov. Whitmer Also Mulled Televised Executions, Prosecutors Say

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Photo via state of Michigan.

By Steve Neavling

A militia group charged with plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had devised alternative plans that included televised executions and burning down the state Capitol building while it was in session, prosecutors said.

The disturbing details, disclosed in new court filings and first reported by ABC7, allege the 14 men, many of whom belonged to a militia group “Wolverine Watchmen,” developed a “Plan B” and “Plan C” if the kidnapping plot failed to work. 

According to prosecutors, Plan B involved recruiting 200 combatants to storm the statehouse and stage televised executions of public officials.

“They were to take hostages, execute tyrants and have it televised,” court documents show. “It would take about one week and (said) that no one is coming out alive.”

Under Plan C, the extremists would set fire to the Capitol building while lawmakers were still in session, “leaving no survivors,” prosecutors said.

The men were charged last month in a plot that the FBI said it thwarted to kidnap Whitmer, a Democrat whose coronavirus restrictions had incensed some conservatives, even as COVID-19 skyrocketed. 

“The group talked about creating a society that followed the U.S. Bill of Rights and where they could be self-sufficient,” the affidavit reportedly said. “They discussed different ways of achieving this goal from peaceful endeavors to violent actions. At one point, several members talked about state governments they believed were violating the U.S. Constitution, including the government of Michigan and Governor Gretchen Whitmer. As part of that recruitment effort, [Adam] Fox reached out to a Michigan-based militia group.”

Six of the men were charged in federal court, and eight were charged in state court. 

Feds Mull Terrorism Charges in Gov. Whitmer Kidnapping Plot Investigtion

Alleged ringleader Adam Fox, 37.

By Steve Neavling

Federal prosecutors are considering terrorism charges against the six men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer after investigators uncovered new evidence, including bomb components. 

In a court filing Monday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office requested a 40-day extension to seek indictments against the suspects to give investigators time to sift through the evidence. In addition to finding bomb parts, investigators must examine 13,000 pages of encrypted text messages, hundreds of hours of undercover audio recordings, and “voluminous” amounts of audio and video found on seized computers and cellphones.

“Firearms and explosive device components were recently recovered, and must be analyzed to determine whether charges under the National Firearms Act, explosives or anti-terrorism statutes are warranted,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nils Kessler wrote. 

No more details of the bomb components were disclosed. 

“Because of the imminent nature of the threat, law enforcement was obliged to arrest the subjects before this evidence could be processed,” Kessler wrote. 

In all, 14 men have been charged in connection with the case in state and federal court. The six charged in federal court are also accused of conspiring to spark a civil war by planning to attack police and the state Capitol. They face up to life in prison. 

FBI Arrests Cleveland Man Accused of Plotting to Kidnap, Kill And Steal Weapons from Law Enforcement

Christian Stanley Ferguson, via Summit County Jail.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI arrested a 20-year-old Cleveland man accused of plotting to ambush law enforcement, kill them and steal their weapons to begin an uprising, the bureau announced Tuesday.

Christian Stanley Ferguson was taken into custody at Cuyahoa Valley National Park without incident Friday and charged with attempted kidnapping.

Ferguson caught the attention of law enforcement by posting violent and extremist posts on the Discord app, according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday.

“Over several weeks, Ferguson discussed his desire to call police to report a false crime was in progress to prompt a response by law enforcement,” the FBI said in a statement. “Specifically, he expressed an interest in a response by federal law enforcement because he believed they had better quality firearms and body armor to steal. He made statements about tactical options for killing multiple targets and the disposal of their bodies. He reaffirmed his plan to ambush law enforcement, kill them, rob them of their weapons, and start an uprising.”

Ferguson conducted practice drills with an AR-15 and even made a distress call at the national park “to gauge response time by park rangers.”

“Ferguson believed four federal officers arrived and indicated that if that many officers respond to the real event, they would likely have to kill them all,” the bureau said. “The FBI was able to successfully monitor these meetings.”

DOJ Decides Not to Charge FBI Agent Who Shot Kidnapping Victim in Houston

The suspects in the kidnapping.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department has decided not to charge the FBI agent who fatally shot a kidnapping victim in a botched rescue attempt at a Houston home.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas “declined to proceed with federal criminal charges against FBI personnel,” a spokesman for the agency wrote in an email to the Houston Chronicle.

The decision was made in May but not publicly disclosed “after a careful and thorough review of all of the available evidence in the matter involving the shooting,” DOJ spokesman Daryl Fields wrote.

“We conducted an approximate 11-month-long, detailed and careful investigation.”

But the unnamed agent isn’t out of hot water yet. Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said a local grand jury will be convened to determine if charges should be filed against the agent.

The agent shot Ulises Valladare last year, a day after kidnappers abducted him and his 12-year-old son, both of whom were bound. The kidnappers demanded ransom from Valladare’s brother, falsely claiming they were connected to a Mexican drug cartel.

The next morning, FBI agents swarmed the home. The unnamed agent used an M-4 machine gun to break a window in the rear of the home when Valladares grabbed the gun. The agent fire two shots at Valladares, mistaking him for a kidnapper.

It still isn’t clear whether the FBI took internal action against the agent.

FBI Frantically Searching for Man Who Was Kidnapped, Held for $2M Ransom

Ruochen “Tony” Liao

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The FBI is frantically searching for a man who was kidnapped in California last month and held by captors for a $2 million ransom.

Federal authorities said Monday that Ruochen “Tony” Liao, a 28-year-old Chinese national, was kidnapped from a San Gabriel shopping center last month by three men on July 16, The Mercury News reports

The captors are demanding $2 million from Liao’s family, which has not paid the money. Authorities have not heard from the kidnappers since.

A witness reported seeing one of the three men, and provided a description to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which created a sketch of the suspect, known as David. He’s described as a Chinese man who speaks Mandarin, is between 35 and 40 years old and is about 6 feet tall.

The other two suspects are also believed to be of Chinese ethnicity.

Liao was spotted entering a black minivan after a business meeting in the Los Angeles area.

Suspects Thwart FBI Hostage Rescue Operation with a Swarm of Drones

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

FBI agents trying to rescue a hostage last year were thwarted when they spotted a swarm of drones that suspects were using to keep an eye on the raid.

The encounter involved  “high-speed low passes at the agents in the observation post to flush them,” reported Defense One’s Patrick Tucker, citing FBI chief Joe Mazel, head of the bureau’s operational technology law division, who was speaking at a conference this week.

Authorities wouldn’t disclose the location, saying the incident remains “law enforcement-sensitive.” But Defense One indicated the encounter happened “on the outskirts of a large U.S. city.”

The FBI said the suspects likely carried the drones in backpacks and then streamed the video on YouTube for the criminals to monitor.