July 3 (Reuters) – Eleven heavily armed, self-professed militia members were arrested near Boston Saturday, ending an overnight stand off that shut down a major U.S. Interstate at the start of the Independence holiday.
The group, identified by multiple media outlets including WBZ Boston, a CBS affiliate, are members of the “Rise of the Moors”, a group that does not recognize American laws, but professes to be peaceful.
Two of the men were taken into custody early in the morning, as officers negotiated with the leaders, seeking their peaceful surrender. Another 7 were apprehended after 10 a.m., police said in a statement.
Police remained on the scene and found two additional people, bringing the arrest total to 11. No other information was immediately available on the arrests.
No shots have been reported fired, and no injuries were reported during the encounter, which started about 1 a.m. when a state trooper saw two cars stopped in a breakdown lane with groups of men armed with rifles and pistols standing around, police said.
The group, whose self-professed leader told police that the men were traveling from Rhode Island to Maine for some “training”, scattered into the nearby woods off Interstate 95 after police asked for their identification and gun permits.
Police closed the highway near Wakefield, about 14 miles north of Boston, and asked local residents to “shelter in place”. The Interstate has since reopened.
State Police Colonel Christopher Mason said in a 7 a.m. news conference that the police were committed to a negotiation with the group. As the hours stretched on, some of the members talked to police near their cars, while others remained in the woods, according to local media reports.
“The self-professed leader wants it very much known that their ideology is not anti-government,” Mason said, but added that police do not know what their ideology is.
“But the quick, down and dirty observation (is that) their actions have had a significant impact on the motoring public, particularly given that this is a holiday weekend.”
Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta, Editing by Franklin Paul