Following an overnight confrontation that resulted in the closure of an interstate highway and stay-at-home orders for surrounding neighbours, Massachusetts officials captured 11 heavily armed men on Saturday.
The incident began at 1:30 a.m. on Interstate 95 in Wakefield, Mass., roughly 12 miles north of Boston, when a state trooper observed two vehicles in the breakdown lane with their hazard lights on.
When asked for their driver’s licenses and firearms licenses, the men said they didn’t have them in their possession, Massachusetts State Police Col. Christopher Mason told reporters.
Mason said the men were wearing tactical vests, military-style uniforms and body cameras. They carried long rifles and pistols, claiming they were traveling from Rhode Island for “training.”
When officers approached them, they claimed to be from a group that “does not recognize our laws,” according to Wakefield Police Department.
After some of the men ran into the woods with their weapons, police established a perimeter and arrested two people. The individuals were “refusing to comply with orders… to put down their weapons,” state police said in a 5:30 a.m. tweet.
They later confirmed that seven more suspects were taken into custody and that sweeps of the vehicles and the woods were continuing. Two more people were located in their vehicles shortly afterwards, bringing the total number of arrests to 11.
Police told The Boston Herald the men didn’t make any threats but were to be considered armed and dangerous. Mason said negotiations resulted in “productive” discussions with the group and to the arrests of the militiamen, who were carried out without further incident.
The highway was shut down in both directions for approximately six hours before police re-opened southbound lanes. Residents of Wakefield and Reading, Mass., were urged to “shelter in place” during the standoff, CNN reported.