11 individuals in custody after hours of armed stalemate on I-95
WAKEFIELD, Massachusetts – An hour-long standoff with a group of heavily armed men who partially closed off Interstate 95 ended with 11 suspects in custody Saturday, Massachusetts State Police said.
Police initially reported that nine suspects were arrested, but two more were later arrested in their vehicle on Saturday morning.
Two suspects were hospitalized, but police said they had pre-existing conditions unrelated to the stalemate.
Mass State Police Colonel Christopher Mason said the suspects surrendered after tactical police teams used armored vehicles to tighten the perimeter around them.
The stalemate closed part of I-95 for much of the morning and caused major traffic problems over the July 4th holiday weekend. Authorities said the interstate has now reopened and shelter orders for Wakefield and Reading have been lifted.
In Massachusetts, Interstate 95 runs from the Rhode Island Line, around Boston to the New Hampshire Line. Wakefield is east of the intersection of Interstate 95 and 93 north of Boston.
The stalemate began around 2 a.m. when police noticed two cars stopped on I-95 with their hazard lights on after they appeared to have run out of fuel, authorities said at a press conference on Saturday.
At least some of the suspects wore military clothing with long guns and pistols, Mason said. He added that they were driving from Rhode Island to Maine for “training”.
“You can imagine that 11 armed people standing on a freeway at 2 a.m. with long guns are sure to raise concerns and are inconsistent with the firearms laws we have in Massachusetts,” Mason said.
He said he understood that the suspects who did not have a gun license have a different perspective on the law.
“I appreciate this perspective,” he said, “I disagree with that perspective at the end of the day, but I realize that it is there.”
The men refused to lay down their guns or obey the orders of the authorities, claiming they belonged to a group “that does not recognize our laws” before heading into a forest area, police said.
Police and prosecutors are working to investigate the charges against members of the group.
The suspects were due to appear in court in Woburn on Tuesday, said Marian Ryan, Middlesex County’s district attorney.
Mason said the group’s “avowed leader” wanted to know they were not against the government.
“I think the investigation that follows from this interaction will give us more insight into their motivations and ideology,” said Mason.
In a video posted on social media Saturday morning, a man who did not give his name but said he was from a group called Rise of the Moors was caught off Interstate 95 in Wakefield near Exit 57 broadcast.
“We are not anti-government. We are not anti-police, we are not sovereign citizens, we are not extremists with a black identity, ”said the man who appeared to be wearing military equipment. “As told the police on several occasions that we are abiding by the United States’ peaceful travel laws.”
The group’s website states that they are “Moorish Americans dedicated to educating new Moors and influencing our elders.”
Mason said he had no knowledge of the group, but it was not uncommon for state police to encounter people who have a “sovereign citizen ideology,” although he did not know if the people involved in the Wakefield stalemate were part of it .