WAKEFIELD (CBS) — Eleven people were arrested and charged on Saturday after their armed standoff with Massachusetts State Police shut down Interstate 95 in Wakefield.
The individuals, comprised of 10 men and one 17-year-old, claimed to be part of a group called “The Rise of The Moors – The Moorish American Arms.” The group says they are American nationals but not US citizens. They have a Moroccan flag, and, according to their website, are based in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. They say their goal is “informing all Moors of their political status here” in the U.S.
Two people were arrested around 6:45 a.m. while State Police said there were “several armed persons accounted for at this scene” who were “refusing to comply with orders to provide their information and put down their weapons.” Seven others were arrested around 10:30 a.m., ending the standoff and two additional people were found in the cars as police swept the two cars involved.
According to State Police Colonel Christopher Mason, the surrender of seven came after State Police tightened their perimeter using BearCats. Three of the suspects were taken to area hospitals for examination after reporting medical issues related to pre-existing conditions.
The standoff stemmed from an incident hours earlier where a trooper stopped to help two cars pulled over in the breakdown lane. State Police said it appeared the two cars were refueling but the trooper noticed the group was wearing full military-style uniforms. Some people had long rifles, some had pistols, and some had both. The trooper asked for driver’s licenses and proper licensing for the guns, but the group did not provide either.
“11 armed individuals, standing with long guns slung on an interstate highway at two in the morning certainly raises concerns, and is not consistent with the firearm laws that we have here in Massachusetts,” said Mason.
They told police they were headed from Rhode Island to Maine for training, according to State Police. As the trooper called for backup, several members of the group spread out into the nearby woods before arrests were made.
“At the end of the day we had the desired outcome with is a safe resolution, everybody on all sides of this equation go home safely, and the roadway is open,” said Mason.
As of late Saturday night, police say eight guns in total were seized.
The highway was closed in both directions Saturday morning but it reopened after the situation was settled.
MassDOT provided large trucks to help secure the scene.
— Mass State Police (@MassStatePolice) July 3, 2021
As of late Saturday night, police have identified the following suspects:
- 29-year-old Jahmal Tavon Sanders Latimer (also known as Jahmal Talib Abdullay Bey) of Providence, R.I.
- 21-year-old Robert Rodriguez of Bronx, N.Y.
- 23-year-old Wilfredo Hernandez (also known as Will Musa) of Bronx, N.Y.
- 27-year-old Alban El Curraugh of Bronx, N.Y.
- 29-year-old Aaron Lamont Johnson (also know as Tarrif Sharif Bey) of Detroit, Michigan
- 40-year-old Quinn Cumberlander of Pawtucket, R.I.
- 34-year-old Lamar Dow of Bronx, N.Y.
- 29-year-old Conrad Pierre of Baldwin, N.Y.
One of the suspects is 17 years old and two others refused to identify themselves. Among the charges for all 11 suspects are unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition, and conspiracy to commit a crime.
Hernandez, Johnson, one of the unnamed suspects, and the 17-year-old are also being charged with giving police a false name.
“Additional charges are possible if the ongoing investigation, including the expected search of the defendants’ two vehicles, determines they are warranted,” said the Middlesex DA Office and State Police in a joint statement late Saturday.
The 17-year-old is being released to his parents, while the remaining suspects will be held at Billerica House of Correction on $100,000 bail.
They are set to be arraigned next week in Malden District Court.
Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan and Mason applauded the patience and professionalism of the troopers involved.
Residents in Wakefield and Reading were told to shelter in place but the order was lifted after the situation was under control. Many looked out to the window, only to see Swat Teams taking over their yards.
“It’s definitely crazy. You never what other people’s are nowadays,” said one resident.
Police from Waltham, Georgetown, Stoneham, Arlington, Lowell, Tewksbury, Burlington, Ayer, and Littleton also responded to the scene.