July 26, 2021

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All suspects in custody after armed standoff with police shuts down part of I-95 in Mass. – Press Herald

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WAKEFIELD, Mass. — A group of heavily-armed men are engaged in an ongoing standoff Saturday with Massachusetts police, prompting shelter-in-place orders in some areas and sparking massive delays on the holiday weekend as a portion of Interstate 95 remains shut down.

The standoff began around 2 a.m. when police noticed two cars pulled over on I-95 with hazard lights on after they had apparently run out of fuel, authorities said at a Saturday press briefing.

Eleven men were clad in military-style gear with long guns and pistols, Mass State Police Col. Christopher Mason said. He added that they were headed to Maine from Rhode Island for “training.”

The men refused to put down their weapons or comply with authorities’ orders, claiming to be from a group “that does not recognize our laws,” police said. They took off into a wooded area, where two men were initially arrested.

The remaining men were taken into custody around 10:30 a.m.

Officials used negotiators to interact with the other suspects.

“Time is our ally in this and we will certainly utilize this,” Mason said.

Mason said the “self-professed leader” of the group wanted it to be known that they are not anti-government.

“I think the investigation that follows from this interaction will provide us more insight into what their motivation, what their ideology is,” Mason said.

Mason said he had no knowledge of the group, but it was not unusual for the state police to encounter people who have “sovereign citizen ideology,” although he did not know if the people involved in the Wakefield standoff was a part of that.

“We train to those encounters,” Mason said. “We very much understand, I guess, the philosophy that underlies that mindset.”

The standoff shut down part of I-95 in Wakefield in both directions, prompting heavy traffic as people hit the road for the Fourth of July weekend.

In Massachusetts, Interstate 95 runs from the Rhode Island line, around Boston to the New Hampshire line. Wakefield is just east of where Interstate 95 and 93 meet north of Boston.

Residents in Wakefield and Reading near where the standoff is taking place have been asked to shelter in place.

Wakefield police said in its statement that no threats had been made but the men were considered armed and dangerous.


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