2 alleged 'boogaloo' members arrested in Michigan and Ohio

DETROIT (AP) — The FBI has arrested two alleged members of the far-right anti-government group the Boogaloo Boys, with authorities increasingly concerned about the potential for violence in the leadup to next week's midterm elections.

Timothy Teagan appeared Wednesday in federal court in Detroit on charges of being a drug user in possession of firearms and ammunition, and giving a false statement in connection with the acquisition of a firearm, according to an unsealed federal complaint.

Meanwhile, the FBI said in a criminal complaint filed Monday that there was enough evidence to charge Aron McKillips, of Sandusky, Ohio, with illegal possession of a machine gun and the interstate communication of threats. It said McKillips is a member of the Boogaloo Boys and is believed to be in a militia group called the Sons of Liberty.

McKillips' lawyer, Neil McElroy, said via email Wednesday that McKillips was taken into custody and that he has asked for McKillips to be released pending a Nov. 9 detention hearing in Toledo, Ohio.

A federal magistrate on Wednesday ordered Teagan held pending a Friday bond hearing.

Dressed colorful Hawaiian-style shirt — a uniform of sorts for adherents to the so-called boogaloo movement, which espouses that a second U.S. civil war is coming — Teagan told the court that he might seek to retain his own attorney.

Police in the Detroit suburb of Plymouth arrested Teagan on Oct. 25 and charged with assault and battery in connection with an attack on his father. FBI agents searching his room at his father's Plymouth home four days later found body armor, boogaloo movement flags and patches, and gas masks, according to the criminal complaint. They also seized a handgun from his brother's vehicle.

According to the complaint, Teagan submitted an Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives form on July 17 for the purchase of a firearm and certified that he did not use controlled substances. But on Oct. 27, agents seized packages of what appeared to be marijuana, bongs and other drug paraphernalia from Teagan's room.

His brother, Christopher Teagan, told an FBI agent on the Joint Terrorism Task Force that he brought Timothy Teagan “a ton of weed” following his brother's release on the assault charge, the complaint states.

Timothy Teagan also told agents that he used marijuana, the FBI contends.

Teagan's arrest Tuesday came a week before the midterm elections. Election workers have increasingly been targeted by threats and harassment since the 2020 election, and it’s only gotten worse in recent weeks, with federal authorities having charged at least five people already. Nationally, elections officials are concerned about a flood of conspiracy theorists signing up to work as poll watchers, with some groups that have trafficked in lies about the 2020 election recruiting and training watchers.

Teagan was among a dozen or so people who openly carried guns while demonstrating in January 2021 outside of the Michigan Capitol in Lansing. Some of them promoted the boogaloo movement. Teagan told reporters at the time that the purpose of the demonstration was “to urge a message of peace and unity to the left and right."

Some boogaloo promoters insist they aren’t genuinely advocating for violence. But the movement has been linked to a string of domestic terrorism plots. The Department of Homeland Security has warned of potential domestic terrorism threats posed by boogaloo supporters.

Christopher Teagan, 24, told The Associated Press following Wednesday's hearing that his brother through his association with the “boogaloo movement” has “never been involved in anything of any type of violent nature.”

“He's just been to protests,” Christopher Teagan said outside the courtroom. “I think (the FBI) will go after him unjustly or harsher because of his association with the group.”

In the criminal complaint against McKillips, the FBI alleges that he made multiple online threats, including one to kill a police officer and another to kill anyone he determined to be a federal informant.

The FBI contends that McKillips provided other members of the Boogaloo Boys equipment to convert rifles into machine guns, as on a trip to Lansing, Michigan, in April 2021. “I literally handed out machine guns in Michigan,” McKillips said in a recording, the complaint states.

In September 2021, he said in a private chat group, “Ain’t Got a federal badge off a corpse yet, so my time here ain’t near done yet lol,” according to the complaint.

In May of this year, McKillips and another user in the Signal messaging system threatened to kill a different Signal user in the belief the person was an informant who worked for the FBI or ATF, the complaint says. And in July, McKillips threatened in a Signal chat group that he would “smoke a hog,” meaning kill a police officer, if conditions worsened following a fatal police shooting in Akron in July, it says.

McKillips frequently advocated violence against police officers, federal agents and government buildings, big box stores like Walmart and Target, and even threatened to blow up Facebook’s headquarters, the criminal complaint says.

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Welsh-Huggins reported from Columbus, Ohio.

Corey Williams And Andrew Welsh-huggins, The Associated Press