COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – An October 22 affidavit in support of a search warrant for social media accounts revealed that South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster was targeted by at least one of the men in a group plotting the kidnapping of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
The document, first obtained by the Detroit News, indicates that Barry Croft (44) sent messages alluding to harming McMaster.
News 2 obtained copies of the affidavits, which detail messages sent by Croft over Facebook.
A May 3 exchange between Croft and another user appears to be the first instance of a possible threat against McMaster.
Croft indicates that “he may be first” and when the user replies “SC,” Croft continues “Yup. I’m going. With sword.”
Croft also posted a photo of Governor McMaster with the caption “this our guy?”
On May 4, Croft wrote the following: “I’ll be in Columbia, SC on Friday. They say they want their Governor in custody.” Later in that conversation, he said “I want to grab them all, and hold trial. A People’s trial. I don’t trust the system for justice.”
The timeline checks out, the FBI says, confirming that “a protest against the quarantine restrictions imposed in South Carolina was scheduled to occur on May 8, 2020 at 12:00 p.m.” in Columbia.
Croft’s account was filled with other violent, antigovernmental rhetoric, with questions like “which governor is going to end up dragged off, and hung for treason first? It’s really a spin the bottle match at this point.”
Croft’s vitriol was not reserved for politicians of any particular party; republican and democratic governors were targeted, as well as both President Trump and former President Obama.
Despite Facebook closing his accounts, Croft continued making new accounts and posting such ideations.
South Carolina’s chief law enforcement officer, Mark Keel, says even now, he has not received formal notification from federal officials about a potential threat to Gov. McMaster – and he’s not happy about it.
Keel, who leads the State Law Enforcement Division, explained his frustration over being told nothing about the plot on Thursday afternoon.
“I wish I knew more about Barry Croft. I know what you know. I know what was in the Detroit News yesterday,” said Chief Keel. “I’m at a loss. I don’t have a good explanation; I don’t know how this happened. That’s what it’s been like.”
Keel says there is no excuse for the FBI not informing him.
“I just don’t understand how this happens. How nothing more than a simple phone call cannot be made and alert us to the same thing that they alerted Michigan and Virginia to. And I want an explanation. I want to know why.”
He went on to say, “They notified the Michigan State Police about the Michigan governor. They notified the Virginia Police about the Virginia governor. But they didn’t bother to notify South Carolina about our governor. Needless to say, I’m not happy about it.”
We asked Keel what he would like to say to the FBI director. “He probably wouldn’t like what I would say. I have talked to him numerous times in the past and I’d like to think that he would pick the phone up and call. I’m gonna let him know just how dissatisfied I am as well.”
“I didn’t know anything about the arrest they made in Columbia about another person that was involved in this plot. Supposedly in October. I think October 8 or 9th is when that happened,” he added.
Keel said he contacted the FBI headquarters and the local FBI office in Columbia, and has been given no information.
“I don’t expect them to let me know about every arrest. But if it’s about an arrest of an individual who is involved in a plot to kidnap or kill a governor in another state and he’s in Columbia, I’d like to think that I’d get a phone call.”