Jul 4, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Massachusetts police arrest 11 armed men after hours-long roadside standoff

Interstate 95 in Wakefield is open as State Police stand along the guardrail near miler marker 57 as the investigation continues into an armed stand off with police, July 3, 2021 Wakefield, MA. (
Interstate 95 in Wakefield is open as State Police stand along the guardrail near miler marker 57 as the investigation continues into an armed stand off with police, July 3, 2021 Wakefield, Massachusetts. Photo: Mary Schwalm/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald

Massachusetts State Police said they took 11 men into custody Saturday after a standoff near Boston with a heavily armed group that saw Interstate 95 partially shut down during the holiday weekend.

Of note: State Police Col. Christopher Mason told a briefing after the nearly nine-hours-long standoff that several firearms were seized from the men, who said they belonged to the Rise of the Moors. The group's website describes members as peaceful Moorish Americans who don't recognize U.S. law.

The big picture: The incident began about 1:30 a.m. when a state trooper stopped to check two vehicles parked in the emergency breakdown lane of the highway in Wakefield, some 15 miles north of Boston, and saw men in military-style gear with long guns and pistols. They said they were traveling from Rhode Island to Maine for training.

  • "You can imagine 11 armed individuals standing with long guns slung on an interstate highway at 2 in the morning certainly raises concerns and is not consistent with the firearms laws that we have in Massachusetts," Mason said.
  • Nine of the suspects surrendered about 10:15 a.m. after police used "a combination of negotiation and tactical measures," including armored vehicles, Mason said. Police later took two more men into custody.
"Their self-professed leader wanted very much known their ideology is not anti-government. Our investigation will provide us more insight into what their motivation, what their ideology is."
ā€” Mason

What to watch: Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan said the suspects were due to appear in court in Woburn on Tuesday.

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