Tipster: Militia Members Went to Kenosha to 'Pick People Off'

FBI arrests Missouri men Michael Karmo, Cody Smith, finds stash of weapons and ammo
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 5, 2020 8:00 AM CDT
Tipster: Militia Members Went to Kenosha to 'Pick People Off'
Michael Karmo, left, and Cody Smith.   (

Out-of-staters converging on Kenosha, Wis., to confront protesters has already resulted in one death, at the hands of Kyle Rittenhouse, an armed 17-year-old from Illinois who considered himself to be protecting the city. Now, two men from Missouri with ties to a militia are in custody on weapons charges after an ominous warning to police from a tipster. Fox News and the Kenosha News report that 40-year-old Michael Karmo and 33-year-old Cody Smith were arrested at a Kenosha County hotel on Tuesday, where FBI agents say they found an AR-15 rifle, two handguns, a 12-gauge shotgun, a DIY silencer, and other gear and ammo inside their room and vehicle. Per a criminal complaint, the Kenosha Police Department had received a tip that Karmo and another man were headed to the city "to loot and possibly 'pick people off.'"

The witness informed investigators that "Karmo told [him] he was going to Kenosha with the intention of possibly using the firearms on people," the complaint notes. "[The witness] feared that ... he was not in the right mindset to have a firearm." Kenosha police contacted the FBI after receiving this tip. Smith told authorities he and Karmo had come to Kenosha to take part in rallies for President Trump, who was visiting the city. Karmo, who has said he and Smith are members of Missouri's 417 Second Amendment Militia (which has celebrated Rittenhouse's actions), informed investigators the men had also planned to travel to Portland, Ore., per the AP. At any rate, neither man is allowed to possess firearms, as they both have previous criminal convictions. Karmo is facing 10 years behind bars for possessing a firearm, while Smith could get 30 for the same charge, plus for possessing a firearm while using illegal drugs and for aiding and abetting Karmo. (More Kenosha, Wisconsin stories.)

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