Massachusetts police standoff with heavily armed men ends in 11 arrests

A standoff overnight between Massachusetts State Police and “several heavily armed men” in the woods ended Saturday morning with 11 people arrested, authorities said.

The ordeal, which started during a police traffic stop, led to the shutdown of part of Interstate 95 and a shelter-in-place order for the surrounding area, police said.

The men were wearing what Massachusetts State Police Col. Christopher Mason described as tactical vests and military style uniforms, along with body cameras, and they were carrying a mixture of long rifles and pistols. The men indicated they were traveling from Rhode Island for “training,” according to Mason.

Mason said at a Saturday morning press conference that he was not aware of any specific demands by the group and that negotiators had been engaged with them to learn more.

The situation started around 1:30 a.m., when a state trooper saw two vehicles in the breakdown lane with their hazard lights on, Mason said.

The men claimed to be “from a group that does not recognize our laws,” according to a statement from the Wakefield Police Department

The trooper on scene requested driver’s licenses and firearms licenses, but the individuals either said they didn’t have them, or didn’t have them in their possession, Mason said.

At some point during this interaction, a number of the individuals ran into the woods with their firearms, Mason said. Police established a perimeter, and two people were initially arrested in the woodline, one of whom was armed, according to Mason.

Massachusetts State Police said in a tweet around 5:30 a.m. that members of the group were “refusing to comply with orders to provide their information and put down their weapons.”

“Through our hostage negotiation team, we are talking with the subjects — some that are in the woods, some that are in the vehicles in the breakdown lane where the original interaction occurred — and we are hopeful that we are able to resolve this peacefully with them,” Mason said during the standoff.

Of the 11 ultimately arrested, two suspects were located in the vehicles, state police said.

The group’s self-professed leader wanted it known that their ideology is not anti-government, Mason said.

“I think the investigation that follows from this interaction will provide us more insight into what their motivation, what their ideology is … Their actions have had a significant impact on the motoring public, particularly because it’s a holiday weekend,” Mason said.

Residents of Wakefield and Reading were urged to shelter in place during the standoff. The shelter in place has since been lifted.

“We will now conduct sweeps of their 2 vehicles and woods,” Massachusetts State Police tweeted.

Kristen Setera, FBI Boston spokeswoman, said the FBI is “fully engaged with our state and local partners.”