FBI busts ‘Boogaloo Bois’ in Ohio and Michigan on weapons charges amid flood of threats, violence

FBI busts ‘Boogaloo Bois’ in Ohio and Michigan on weapons charges amid flood of threats, violence

While other far-right paramilitary groups who played key roles in the Jan. 6 insurrection, such as the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, have remained highly active in its aftermath, the followers of the antigovernment Boogaloo civil-war movement have mostly kept a low profile. But it’s fairly clear, as two arrests made this week in separate states indicate, that its followers remain quietly active, lurking in the background.

The arrests occurred in the context of increasing concern about right-wing domestic terrorism around the coming fall elections. FBI agents on Tuesday arrested an Ohio man connected to the Boogaloos who had multiple weapons and an arms cache, as well as a history of making violent threats. On Wednesday, they arrested a man in Michigan who had participated in the 2020-21 Boogaloo protests outside the Michigan Capitol and charged him with illegally owning an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle.

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According to authorities, the Ohio man, 29-year-old Aron McKillips of Sandusky, had been ratcheting up his extremist rhetoric, vowing to kill police and other government officials. When the FBI’s Cleveland Division searched his home, they found a large cache of weapons: homemade machine guns, stockpiled silencers, bomb-making materials, and a rifle-mounted grenade launcher.

In a criminal complaint filed Monday, the FBI said it had gathered enough evidence to charge McKillips with illegal possession of a machine gun and the interstate communication of threats. It said he was part of a scheme to kill as many government officials as possible before police killed him.

The Michigan man, Timothy Teagan, 24, of Plymouth, was taken into custody after local police came to his family home the week before in response to a domestic-violence call. Taegan reportedly bit his father in the head and punched him multiple times, and when police arrived and arrested him, the father told them his son had guns in his room. The FBI arrived a couple of days later.

When they searched Teagan’s home, they found an AR-15 and multiple rounds of ammunition, as well as a marijuana stash. Because pot is still outlawed under federal regulations, gun ownership is prohibited for anyone using it (both for medical and recreational use). So Teagan was charged with illegally possessing the gun and a gun law that prohibits drug users from owning firearms.

Teagan had participated in January 2021 protests in Lansing with a gun slung over his shoulder. In the past year, according to the criminal complaint, his behavior has grown increasingly violent: He held a sword to his father’s throat, kicked the wife of a friend in the face, and “threatened to shoot up (his friend’s) house with his AR-15 if they called the police.”

Teagan, moreover, is a self-acknowledged prolific pot user—“I smoke plenty of weed in this city, believe me,” he said in one interview—and that landed him in federal trouble. On July 17, according to court records, he filled out a federal firearms-registry form for the purchase of a Glock 34 9 mm handgun. He answered “no” to a question about whether he used any drugs or controlled substances, which was false.

McKillips, in contrast, posed a significantly more violent threat. He became the subject of an investigation after a traffic stop on New Year’s Eve 2020 in Sandusky; police found “several hundred rounds of 5.56mm and 9mm ammunition, body armor, AR-15 rifle upper receiver, parachute flares, medical kits, firearm components, and military style equipment” in the rear of McKillips’ car, as well as “two marijuana roaches in the center console,” which cops seized. He was issued a citation and released.

Afterward, investigators say, McKillips often spoke in what he believed were encrypted chats on Signal to other members of his Boogaloo militia group, the Liberty Boys, about his violent plans, including his hopes to “blow up the IRS,” and carry out a murderous slaughter like October 2017 massacre in Las Vegas. He also discussed detonating a pipe bomb at a local child support office over processing fees.

“This shit started out being a fucking way to kill feds,” McKillips allegedly said in an audio recording he posted in a Signal chat room. He also talked about “burning down federal buildings and shooting federal agents.”

“That’s what we were about,” McKillips continued, according to the complaint. “The main fucking beginning was kill feds, kill police, kill government officials. Kill them. Murder them. Unalive them. Delete them. Get rid of them. And then it became, ‘we’re gonna do this peaceful.’ Fuck that.”

In another Signal chat, McKillips claimed he was willing to travel out of state in order to “smoke a hog.” He also complained that “noone [sic] wants to raid government building [sic] with me.” When a cohort replied, “That’s too much drama,” McKillips responded:  “Not yet, not till I mail a feds [sic] head back to his wife.”

McKillips frequently advocated violence against a variety of targets. They ranged from police officers, federal agents, government buildings, and other forms of official authority, to corporate targets, including stores like Walmart and Target. He also vowed to blow up Facebook’s headquarters.

In one Signal message sent last year, he wrote: “Ain’t got a federal badge off a corpse yet, so my time here ain’t near done yet lol.”

McKillips also talked constantly in chats about guns—trading weapons and firearm accessories, boasting about turning semi-automatic firearms into fully automatic machine guns. In one chat, he claimed he was in Michigan “literally handing out machine guns” to other Boogaloo members. In another, he claimed he obtained the grenade launcher agents found in his home through a trade for a large amount of cocaine.

In contrast, Teagan was involved in efforts to pitch the Boogaloo movement to leftists and Black Lives Matter activists as primarily a peaceful movement intended to protect people from government oppression. When he protested in Lansing in January 2021, he told reporters the purpose of the demonstration was “to urge a message of peace and unity to the left and right, to the members of BLM, to Trump supporters to Three Percenter militias to antifa.”

In an interview after his home was raided, Teagan said that FBI agents questioned him about any potential violence being planned in the upcoming election.

“They were asking if I knew about any violent plans or any violent tendencies that could come forth about the election,” Teagan told documentarian Ford Fischer. “I told ’em we are kind of worried about protests if Prop 3 fails … but I told them we really have no concerns over the election.”

The “peaceful movement” narrative was a common explanation that emerged from portions of the Boogaloo movement in 2020, leading some analysts to conclude that the movement was “neither right nor left.” In reality, however, it always has been a fundamentally far-right movement, devoted to the destruction of liberal democracy, primarily by promoting violent chaos directed at its institutions, beginning with law enforcement but extending to federal civil rights, environmental, and other wide-reaching statutes.

This is borne out by the record of the behavior of its adherents:

  • In October 2020, 14 Michigan militiamen who subscribed to the Boogaloo ethos, calling themselves the Wolverine Watchmen, were arrested for plotting to kidnap and execute Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Two of the ringleaders were convicted on federal charges, and three of them so far have been convicted on lesser state charges, while two were acquitted in the federal case.
  • That same month, the FBI arrested a 26-year-old Texas “Boogaloo Boi,” Ivan Harrison Hunter of San Antonio, for opening fire on a Minneapolis police station with a semiautomatic rifle, and later participating in an act of arson against the station. Hunter boasted about the violence on Facebook.
  • In late May 2020, Steven Carrillo, an Air Force staff sergeant in California who practiced paramilitary training with a group of other “Boogaloo Bois,” murdered a federal officer (and wounded another) at an Oakland Black Lives Matter protest with a sniper rifle, and then shot and killed a sheriff’s deputy who was investigating him for that crime five days later. He and his “Grizzly Scouts” cohorts intended to create the impression that antifascists had committed the killings: “It’s the tactically sound option,” one of them wrote. “Them fucking each other up only helps us.”
  • Two other men involved in the Minneapolis protests, Michael Robert Solomon and Benjamin Ryan Teeter—the latter of whom traveled in conjunction with Hunter—were indicted in September for conspiring to provide material support for a foreign terrorist organization. The men had hoped to join the forces of the “Boojihadeen” with the radical Islamists, though the man with the Middle Eastern accent with whom they shared the plans was in fact a federal informant.
  • The three Las Vegas-area Boogaloo Bois arrested for building Molotov cocktails as part of a larger campaign to wreak havoc around the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests over police brutality did not plan to attack BLM—as most “Patriot” and “Proud Boy” groups have done over the past three years—but instead sought to use the BLM protests to target police officers and power infrastructure as a way of ramping up the violence around the protests.
  • A Texarkana, Texas, man who intended to spark the Boogaloo by ambushing police officers was caught by officers who were alerted by his attempt to livestream his planned killing spree. They went to his location and arrested him shortly thereafter.
  • A Boogaloo enthusiast who posted comments on Facebook about bringing his rifle to a protest against stay-at-home orders in Denver attracted the interest of FBI agents, who, upon visiting him at his home, discovered a cache of homemade pipe bombs. The man openly expressed his intent to use them to kill any federal agents who tried to invade his home.
  • Another Boogaloo Boi planned to livestream his ambush on police officers at an Ohio national park, but was arrested by FBI agents before he could pull off the plan.

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