11 arrested as standoff involving group of armed men on I-95 in Massachusetts comes to end

Shelter in place lifted in surrounding communities

A shelter-in-place order for two Massachusetts communities has been lifted after a standoff between law enforcement and a group of armed individuals on Interstate 95 came to an end with 11 men in custody, according to authorities.

Jul 3, 2021: Part of the interstate is closed and sections of two communities are locked down while police continue to negotiate with armed men.

The standoff, which lasted for nearly 9 hours Saturday morning, caused part of I-95 to be closed in both directions for hours.

The situation began when a Massachusetts State Police trooper spotted two vehicles in the breakdown lane with their hazard lights activated on I-95 north at about 1:30 a.m. Saturday and stopped to offer assistance, according to MSP Superintendent Col. Christopher Mason.

Mason said the trooper observed a group of eight to 10 men trying to refuel a vehicle and saw they were wearing tactical-style gear. They were armed with a combination of rifles and pistols.

When the men were asked why they were wearing tactical-style gear, Mason said they told the trooper that they were traveling from Rhode Island to Maine for “training.”

The trooper asked the men for identification and firearms licenses and when the men said they did not have them available, the trooper called for backup, according to Mason.

“At some point during this interaction, a number of those individuals alight into the woodline with their firearms. A perimeter was quickly established,” Mason said.

“No threats were made, but these men should be considered armed and dangerous. We are asking residents in these areas to lock their doors and remain inside their homes. A heavy police presence will be in this area as well,” the Wakefield Police Department wrote in a statement.

People in the areas of Parker Road, Elm Street and North Avenue in Wakefield, as well as those in the Parker Road and Ash Street areas in Reading, were advised to shelter in place.

Stoneham police, meanwhile, are advised all of the town’s residents to use caution and avoid areas of town that are near Interstate 95.

At approximately 6:10 a.m., two men were seen being taken into custody on North Avenue during a live report on WCVB. NewsCenter 5 reporter Josh Brogadir said the men, who were wearing fatigues, were walking near a staging area.

“While we were standing in that area, we saw some officers start to run. They came over here and they took these two guys into custody,” Brogadir reported.

Jul 3, 2021: Standoff Between Massachusetts Police and Heavily Armed Men, Suspects in Custody

Massachusetts State Police spokesperson David Procopio later confirmed the arrests and said the situation was continuing with remaining members of the group. Mason says one of the two men who were taken into custody was armed, but noted that the other was not.

During a news conference that started at about 11:15 a.m., Mason said the standoff was successfully resolved an hour earlier and that nine additional men were arrested without incident, bringing the total number of suspects in custody to 11.

“We were able to utilize, to great effect, the BearCats. They demonstrated and sent a message that we were serious, that we were resolved about getting this issue ended and ending it in a safe way. The BearCats allow us to do that,” he said. “Once those BearCats pressed the scene and moved them in, it had its desired effect and they were compliant very quickly.”

According to Mason, two of the suspects requested to receive medical attention for preexisting conditions. Procopio noted later in the day that a third suspect was taken to a hospital for a similar reason. According to Procopio, two of the three suspects have been released from hospital care and taken to a state police barracks as of 5:30 p.m. while the other was still being examined at a hospital.

At about 10:30 a.m., Procopio confirmed that seven additional suspects had been taken into custody by the MSP Special Tactical Operations Team. Approximately 40 minutes later, Procopio said that two more suspects were found in the group’s vehicles and taken into custody.

Mason said that after the vehicles were swept for potential improvised explosive devices, even though there was no specific intelligence about them in this case, they were towed from the scene in order to be processed for further evidence.

Drivers traveling on Interstate 95 north in the Wakefield area near Mile Marker 57 are being urged to exercise caution and expect delays, as Mason says investigators continue to search the breakdown lane and the wooded area.

Shortly before 11:30 a.m., officials in the communities of Reading and Wakefield announced that the shelter-in-place orders had been lifted.

Interstate 95 was closed for hours in both directions between Lynnfield and Stoneham because of the standoff. The southbound side of the highway was reopened at about 10:45 a.m., while the northbound side was reopened approximately 45 minutes later.

A group calling themselves “Moorish American Arms” posted a video on Instagram overnight showing armed members blocking the highway.

Mason said he did not have any particular knowledge of “Moorish American Arms,” but did say that it is not unusual for state police to encounter people that have “sovereign citizen ideologies” and that troopers undergo training at the State Police Academy about how to deescalate and resolve situations involving encounters with those individuals in a peaceful manner.

“I’m not saying that this group does, but we have had those encounters in the past,” Mason said.

According to Mason, the self-professed leader of the group involved in the standoff wanted to make it very much known to state police negotiators that their ideology is not anti-government and that the group “wanted a voice” and “wanted to be heard.”

Mason could not confirm that the suspects involved in the standoff were validated members of any particular group.

“I think they’ve been pretty vocal on social media about who they are and what they espouse. I’m not going to propagate that and they can define that for themselves,” he said.

Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Mason both said that Ryan’s office and state police investigators are working to determine the exact charges that the suspects involved in the standoff will face, but the charges are expected to include firearms-related offenses.

Ryan says her office working to identify the men in custody and that they will likely be arraigned Tuesday morning in Woburn District Court. Procopio said that several of the suspects are refusing to provide identifying information, which is delaying the booking process.

Mason said that state and local authorities received assistance from the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (NEMLEC) and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the latter of which provided dump trucks and snowplows to help set up a blockade on Interstate 95.

In addition, Mason said that he contacted Joseph Bonavolonta, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston Division, about the incident and that FBI teams did respond to the scene.

https://www.wcvb.com/article/standoff-closes-part-of-i-95-wakefield-reading-asked-to-shelter-in-place/36918863

Published by amongthefray

News with a historical perspective. Fighting against misinformation, hate, and revisionist history.

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