The Null brothers both attended a protest against Ms. Whitmer’s coronavirus control measures at the State Capitol in April, and were pictured carrying long guns and wearing protective gear. Sheriff Dar Leaf of Barry County, Mich., spoke at the protest and told a local television station this week that he did not regret sharing the stage with the men.
“The two gentlemen that I know of from my county, were they involved in that?” he told WXMI, the Fox affiliate in Grand Rapids. “I don’t know. They’re innocent till proven guilty. And we really, really should be careful, trying to try them in the media.”
In the federal case, the F.B.I. said Mr. Fox and Mr. Croft had decided to “unite others” to “take violent action” against state governments that they thought were violating the Constitution.
Last year, Mr. Croft, who had been imprisoned in the 1990s after being found guilty of assault, having a firearm while committing a felony and several other charges, received a pardon from the Delaware governor, The News Journal in Wilmington, Del., reported on Friday.
Brian Titus, the owner of a vacuum store in Grand Rapids, said he had hired Mr. Fox, whom he had known since childhood, and even given him a place to stay in the store’s basement after he was kicked out of his girlfriend’s home. Mr. Titus said the store was raided by the authorities on Wednesday.
“I felt sorry for him but I didn’t know he was capable of doing this; this is almost insane,” Mr. Titus said in an interview. “I knew he was in a militia, but there’s a lot of people in a militia that don’t plan to kidnap the governor. I mean, give me a break.”
How did the governor and other officials react?
“I knew this job would be hard,” Ms. Whitmer said on Thursday after the charges were announced. “But I’ll be honest, I never could have imagined anything like this.”