from ruby ridge ID to detroit MIMadison Heights — The Metro Detroit man killed during a shootout with FBI agents Friday served an 11-year prison sentence for shooting at two police officers, was an adherent of an anti-government movement and played a minor role in the infamous Ruby Ridge standoff, one of the darkest chapters in federal law enforcement history.
The troubled life of Madison Heights resident Eric Mark-Matthew Allport, 43, started to emerge as details about what led to the fatal shooting remained shrouded in secrecy and as believers of the right-leaning anti-government Boogaloo movement hailed Allport as a member and martyr.
FBI officials have not revealed exactly how Allport was killed during a shootout with agents who were executing an arrest warrant for a federal weapons offense in the parking lot of a Texas Roadhouse in Madison Heights. The Oakland County Medical Examiner's Office said Allport died of multiple gunshot wounds and classified his death as a homicide.
The shooting, which left an FBI agent wounded, served as a violent end to Allport's life 28 years after federal agents, including an FBI sharpshooter, shot and killed Allport's friends and neighbors on a remote mountaintop in Idaho. The deadly Ruby Ridge standoff has served as a rallying cry for white nationalists and inspired the 1995 domestic terror attack by Michigan native Terry Nichols and Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma City.
Allport's former partner, Rachel Charnley, said he appeared to have turned his life around after leaving prison for a separate shooting and moving to Michigan six years ago. He ran a dog-training business, got married last month and his pregnant wife is expected to give birth later this month, Charnley said.
"He had a love-hate relationship with the police," said Charnley, who started K9 Heights Dog Training with Allport four years ago. "I didn't think in a million years he would revert to this."
An FBI spokeswoman, federal prosecutor and court officials declined to release a copy of the sealed arrest warrant and criminal case against Allport or explain why they tried arresting a suspect with a violent history at a restaurant in public. Madison Heights police rejected a Freedom of Information Act request from The Detroit News, and it's unclear whether the federal investigation was focused solely on Allport or if there are additional targets of the investigation.
The government's unwillingness to discuss details of the shooting and investigation comes at a time of increased scrutiny of law enforcement conduct nationwide and shootings by officers.
“With agent-involved shootings, the FBI gets very tight-lipped very quick,” said Michael German, a former FBI agent and fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan law and policy institute in New York.
“Unfortunately, the FBI and Department of Justice take their time with those investigations, and I think that the lack of transparency, and in particular, timely transparency, sometimes undermines the public trust even though in many of these cases the evidence is compelling that the agents did no wrong," German said.
Allport was born in Michigan but spent his teenage years in rural Idaho with his mother, Judy, and father, Bill Grider. In the early 1990s, they lived in a home near Ruby Ridge, a mountainous area 30 miles south of the Canadian border.
Their neighbor was Randy Weaver, a white separatist who moved his family to the remote mountaintop. The family included wife Vicki and 14-year-old son Sammy, who was the same age as Allport in 1992.
Allport and his parents were friends with the Weavers, occasionally delivering groceries to the family's remote cabin, sometimes in a homemade burlap sack strapped to the Grider family dog Rebel, according to news coverage at the time.
“The Griders lived in a cabin near the Weavers and were known to share philosophical views similar to those held by the Weavers,” according to a Justice Department review of the Ruby Ridge siege.
Deputy U.S. Marshals enlisted the Griders to help deliver messages to Randy Weaver about a court date for a pending firearms charge.
Weaver refused to surrender, leading to an 11-day siege with federal agents in August 1992. During the siege, Sammy Weaver and a deputy U.S. Marshal were killed during a shootout and an FBI sharpshooter killed Vicki Weaver.
Jess Walter, a reporter and author who wrote a book about the siege, "Every Knee Shall Bow," remembers Eric Allport and his family.
"He would have been friends with the Weaver’s kids Sara (16) and Sammy, especially," Walter told The Detroit News.
The siege left a big impact on Allport.
"He got caught up with the drama and was not happy with all of that," Charnley told The News. "Obviously, any sort of event like that would be a major impact on anyone's life."
Guns played a recurring role in Allport's life.
The team of FBI agents involved in the attempted Allport arrest likely knew about his background and ties to Ruby Ridge, said Andrew Arena, former special agent in charge of the FBI office in Detroit.
"They’re going to know as much about a person as they can," Arena said. "And that goes into how you formulate your arrest plan or search plan. You want as much intelligence as you can get."
During Arena's tenure leading the FBI office in Detroit, four agents shot and killed Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah during a raid at a Dearborn warehouse in 2009.
In that case, Abdullah was shot 20 times and few details were released for almost a year, leading to rumors and speculation within the Muslim community.
The shooting led to an investigation by the Michigan Attorney General's Office, which ruled the shooting justified.
in a basement hidden by a rug...Federal agents said Thursday they thwarted a plot to violently overthrow the government as well as kidnap and harm Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — a conspiracy that included visits to her home in northern Michigan and training with firearms and explosive devices.
The alleged plot mainly involved six conspirators unhappy in part about Whitmer's coronavirus restrictions, calling her a "tyrant." They wanted to create a "self-sufficient" society free from what they called unconstitutional state governments and discussed plans to storm the Capitol and take hostages, according to FBI documents filed in court.
Organizers allegedly met starting in June, including at a Second Amendment rally in Lansing and in a Grand Rapids shop basement accessed through a secret door hidden under a rug.
The plot also included at least seven members of a Michigan militia known as the Wolverine Watchmen accused by state officials on Thursday of targeting police, making threats to "instigate civil war" and helping to plan Whitmer's kidnapping, according to state and federal officials.
The federal court filing alleges the conspirators twice conducted surveillance at Whitmer's personal vacation home in northern Michigan and discussed kidnapping her to a "secure location" in Wisconsin to stand "trial" for treason prior to the Nov. 3 election.
"Several members talked about murdering 'tyrants' or 'taking' a sitting governor," an FBI agent wrote in the affidavit. "The group decided they needed to increase their numbers and encouraged each other to talk to their neighbors and spread their message."
After the charges were revealed, Whitmer slammed President Donald Drumpf for failing to condemn in strong enough terms hate groups, such as the far-right Proud Boys, whom he told to "stand back and stand by" during the debate last week.
"Hate groups heard the president's words not as a rebuke, but as a rallying cry, a call to action," the Democratic governor said.
She also warned those who threatened violence: "We will find you, we will hold you accountable and we will bring you to justice.”
The federal affidavit first reported by The Detroit News was filed hours after a team of FBI agents raided a Hartland Township home Wednesday and comes amid an investigation into the death of a Metro Detroit man killed during a shootout with FBI agents.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, federal and state officers on Thursday detailed charges against the 13 people and what they described as "elaborate plans" to kidnap Whitmer.
The nature of the case is “rather unprecedented,” Michigan State Police Col. Joe Gasper said at the news conference.
“But it does send a very vivid reminder that while we may be in a period of discourse, possibly even divisiveness and fighting across the nation, law enforcement stands united,” Gasper said.
The investigation is the result of months of work that culminated Wednesday night in the execution of a series of search warrants and arrest warrants — both in-state and out-of-state — related to acts of terrorism under Michigan state law.
The conspiracy described by the FBI specifically involved six people, including Ty Garbin, 24, whose home was raided by agents in Hartland Township late Wednesday.
The affidavit filed in federal court details probable cause to charge the six men with conspiring to kidnap Whitmer. Those identified by name include:
Fox, Garbin, Franks, Harris and Caserta made initial appearances in federal court Thursday and are being held without bond pending detention hearings. The conspiracy charge each is facing is punishable by up to life in federal prison.
- Adam Fox, 37, of Potterville
- Barry Croft, 44, of Bear, Delaware
- Ty Garbin, 24, of Hartland
- Kaleb Franks, 26, of Waterford
- Daniel Harris, 23, of Lake Orion
- Brandon Caserta, 32, of Canton Township
"All of us standing here today want the public to know that federal and state law enforcement are committed to working together to make sure violent extremists never succeed with their plans, particularly when they target our duly elected leaders," said U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge of the Western District of Michigan.