Ongoing updates: Plot to kidnap Whitmer | Who's charged, what's next?
At least two men charged in relation to an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer were among those who carried long guns inside the state Capitol earlier this year, officials confirmed.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office confirmed identical twins, William and Michael Null, both 38, were among those inside the Capitol for an anti-Whitmer rally April 30 and were photographed standing in a gallery above the Senate.
Nessel alleges the brothers are among seven members of the “Wolverine Watchmen” militia group who she charged Thursday with crimes under the state’s anti-terrorism act.
Nessel alleged the members of the group called on militia members to identify the homes of law enforcement officers to target them, made threats of violence to instigate a "civil war" and trained for an operation to attack the Capitol and kidnap officials, including Whitmer.
The charges came on the same day six other men were federally charged with attempting to kidnap Whitmer. In charging documents, prosecutors allege the men also had a plan to storm the Michigan Capitol and take lawmakers hostage.
Nessel’s staff identified the Null brothers from a widely shared photo of the April incident by Sen Dayna Lynn Polehanki, D-Livonia.
The two are the first and third men in the photo, according to WXYZ-TV.
Michael Null lives in Plainwell in Allegan County in west Michigan, while William Null lives less than 20 miles away in Shelbyville.
Both face charges of providing material support for terrorist acts, a 20-year felony, and carrying a firearm in possession of a felony, a two-year felony.
Speaking on the Senate floor on Thursday, Polehanki said “I’m scared, and I’m mad, and I refuse to take it any longer.”
“When the world was shown the reality of our workplace in the Michigan Capitol, they were appalled. Men armed to the teeth stormed our chambers to intimidate us, and today, we found out these threats were real. There was a plan in place to not only scare us but kidnap us and kill us.
“We literally dodged death,” she continued. “This time. But what about next time? Because there will be a next time.”
She called on lawmakers to ban guns from the Capitol. A state commission has resisted doing so despite months of debate. The commission's vice chair, John Truscott, said Thursday he thinks that Capitol firearm policy is best left to leaders in the Republican-led Legislature.
State Sen. Mallory McMorrow, D-Royal Oak, also weighed in.
“This photo of two of the men arrested today as part of a domestic terrorist plot to storm the Capitol, take hostages, and kidnap the Governor, is effectively the view from my desk,” McMorrow tweeted. “I was standing next to [Polehanki] when she took this photo from the Senate floor."