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Michigan Militia Accused Of Plotting Attack On Police

NOAH ADAMS, host:

A Christian militia group based in the Midwest was planning to kill a police officer, then attack the funeral procession with improvised explosive devices. That is according to an indictment unsealed today in U.S. district court. Nine suspects have been charged in connection with that and other plots, eight of them have been arrested.

For more on the story, we're joined by Ben Schmitt of the Detroit Free Press. Mr. Schmitt, tell us, first of all, about the group. They're called the Hutaree. I don't know where that name comes from. Where are they? How big are they? And why are they alleged to have been plotting to kill police?

Mr. BEN SCHMITT (Detroit Free Press): Well, they're based out of, what we're gathering, a small town in Michigan known as Adrian, Michigan. And as far as how big they are, we're still trying to figure that out. It doesn't appear to be that they were very large. And what they were trying to do was have some sort of standoff with a group that they call the brotherhood, which means, in their mind, law enforcement.

And their plan was to, first of all, kill a police officer, then go to the funeral and let off some explosive devices that would kill more and then engage in some sort of violent standoff after the explosions.

ADAMS: And what would be the aim of that? What would be their plan?

Mr. SCHMITT: It was just some sort of, you know, a catalyst for more of a widespread attack against the government.

ADAMS: You mean they wanted other people to join them?

Mr. SCHMITT: That's right.

ADAMS: So, what happens now?

Mr. SCHMITT: Well, what happens now is they'll go to court Wednesday and they'll either be appointed lawyers or they will have lawyers that they hire and the legal process will move from there. Some of them will try to get out on bond. Some of them will be allowed to, maybe, some of them won't be. And then we'll proceed from there.

ADAMS: Do you get any idea of why the authorities think this group could be so dangerous?

Mr. SCHMITT: Well, I think what they were afraid of was, from what we're hearing is that they were there was going to be some sort of attack in April. And, of course, you know, it's March 29th, so they moved this weekend because they were so concerned about some sort of imminent attack.

ADAMS: And how many different locations were the arrests made?

Mr. SCHMITT: There was some here in Michigan, some in Ohio, and I think one in Indiana, I believe.

ADAMS: Is anything known about any of the people who were arrested?

Mr. SCHMITT: Yeah, I talked to the wife of the I'm sorry, the ex-wife of one of the men. His name is David Stone. He's said to be the leader. And she said that this thing started off they were married 10 years ago and this thing started off as sort of a peaceful praying thing, and then she saw it becoming more violent and saw the purchasing of heavy artillery, like AR-15 weapons. And at that point, she said she got out of the marriage. And she thought it was just becoming something that was out of control.

ADAMS: You've had a chance to take a careful look at their Web site. What do you see there?

Mr. SCHMITT: Well, their Web site, you know, there's a lot of hate-spewing. There's a training video where they're, you know, look to be walking through a forest with a bunch of weapons and all kinds of military gear on. And it's still something where we're kind of trying to find out what this all means.

ADAMS: You mentioned that you talked to the ex-wife of one of those who was arrested. Does it seem to be, in a way, a family organization?

Mr. SCHMITT: Well, there's definitely at least some family connection, because the David Stone, the alleged leader, has his new wife, who was arrested with him, and two sons. So, right off, four out of the nine suspects are, you know, related in some way.

ADAMS: Ben Schmitt, a staff writer with the Detroit Free Press. Thank you for your time.

Mr. SCHMITT: Thanks a lot. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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