GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Grand Rapids man accused of conspiring to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was mad at the government and police and fearful Democrats would win in November and take away his guns, his boss said.
Adam Fox is among six men facing federal charges for the alleged plot and documents from the Michigan attorney general call him the leader. Several others have been charged at the state level. All are in or associated with militia groups, officials say.
Fox, 37, had been staying at the Vac Shack, a vacuum repair shop tucked away in a strip mall at the intersection of S. Division Avenue and 36th Street in southern Grand Rapids. Fox’s bedroom was in the basement, accessible through a door in the floor of a utility closet.
The FBI raided it Wednesday — the same day online records show Fox was booked into the Kent County jail — finding a 9 mm handgun, two assault weapons and ammunition, Vac Shack owner Brian Titus said.
Titus told News 8 he has known Fox since he was a child. He said he knew Fox was in a militia but didn’t know how serious his anti-government opinions had gotten.
“I knew he (Fox) belonged to the militia but I didn’t know it was this deep. He kept it pretty quiet,” Titus, clearly upset, said. “I thought he was just trying to stand up for our constitutional rights.”
He said Fox had “changed” in the last eight months, objecting to wearing a mask because he thought it was a violation of his rights. Titus said he attended a protest with other militia members at the state Capitol over the summer.
“I noticed he started getting on edge and stuff,” Titus said, but he said he had no idea about the alleged plot to kidnap Whitmer.
While Titus said he never heard Fox talk about white supremacy or race, he did hear him talk about Boogaloo, an anti-government movement known for trademark Hawaiian shirts, which Titus said Fox had. Titus said Fox described Boogaloo as the battle that would erupt if the government tried to take away Second Amendment rights.
“He was anti-police, anti-government. He was afraid if he didn’t stand up for the Second Amendment and his rights that the country is going to go communism and socialism,” Titus said.
He said he was trying to help Fox, who was homeless.
“Him and his girlfriend broke up in Kalamazoo and he came here homeless and he had two dogs so I let him stay here,” Titus said. “I got scared when he told me he was involved in a militia. He had his own militia.”
He told Fox he needed to be out by November.
“When you go out and help out people this is what happens. They (FBI) weren’t looking at anything I done wrong because I didn’t know about it,” Titus said.
All day Thursday, Titus fielded calls from national media and regular people, some angry and some supportive.
A veteran of the U.S. Marines, he said he’s afraid of losing his business and stressed it is safe to come to his store, noting no explosives were found there.
“This is my life. I’m 60 years old. This is really affecting me because there’s more people out there. It’s not just him. They’re everywhere,” he said.
Titus says he is also worried about Fox’s two dogs. One of the animals was used as an emotional support animal for Fox’s anxiety. Fox also smoked marijuana for his anxiety as well, Titus said.
Titus says Fox’s mom will take one of the dogs, but he will be looking for a home for the other one.
NEIGHBORS: OTHER SUSPECT SEEMED ‘NORMAL, PRETTY NICE’
Also implicated in the plot and facing state-level charges are 38-year-old twin brothers William and Michael Null of Allegan County.
Bill Null lives along 9th Street in Shelbyville with his family. Around 8 p.m. Wednesday, the area was lighted with blue cruiser lights as police converged on it.
“I didn’t know that the police were doing there. They had the road blocked off,” one neighbor said said.
“We couldn’t figure out what was going on,” another neighbor added. “I still can’t believe it. When we talked to him, he just seemed to be a normal, pretty nice fellow.”
And when Bill Null spoke to News 8 in July for a profile of the Michigan Liberty Militia, which he co-founded, he said the group was misunderstood. He presented himself and his fellow members as peacekeepers out to preserve and protect rights of citizens.
“Some of the events we’re at we don’t actually agree with, but as constitutionalists you have the right to protest as long as your peaceful,” Bill Null said.
According to court documents, that’s the same time the plot against the governor was developing.
The only thing neighbors had noticed at the Null household recently was that he just put up a large fence — but they speculated it was to hide things in the yard rather than shelter criminal activity.
No one came to the door at the home when News 8 went there seeking comment, nor did anyone answer at Michael Null’s home near Plainwell.