Wakefield

11 Suspects Now in Custody Following Armed Standoff Off I-95 in Mass.: Police

Heavily armed men with handguns and rifles "claiming to be from a group that does not recognize our laws" fled a traffic stop in Wakefield, police said

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All remaining suspects involved in an hours long armed standoff with police off Interstate 95 in Wakefield, Massachusetts, on Saturday morning have been taken into custody, state police said.

All 11 suspects had been taken into custody and were being transported for booking, police said. Two of the 11 suspects were apprehended earlier in the morning. All of them were described as being part of a group called the Rise of the Moors and referred to themselves as a militia, police said.

Experts say the group involved in Saturday's standoff on I-95 in Massachusetts is based in Rhode Island and has unique ideas about the law.

Eight guns, including three AR-15s, were seized, according to police, who said none of the suspects had licenses to carry guns.

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The scene was cleared before being processed for evidence, state police said. Investigators are seeking court authorization to search the suspects' vehicles.

The group of heavily armed men allegedly refused to comply with police Saturday morning north of Boston, prompting I-95 to be closed and shelter-in-place orders for residents of Wakefield and Reading. Police lifted the shelter-in-place orders shortly after the suspects were taken into custody.

The highway was shut down between Lynnfield and Stoneham, with Massachusetts State Police asking drivers to avoid the area.

People in Wakefield and Reading had to shelter in place for hours Saturday morning as police searched for armed men.

As of around 10 p.m., two of the men continued to refuse to identify themselves. Police and prosecutors identified the following suspects:

  • Jamhal Tavon Sanders Latimer, 29, of Providence, Rhode Island, also known as Jamhal Talib Abdullah Bey
  • Robert Rodriguez, 21, of the Bronx, New York
  • Wilfredo Hernandez, 23, of the Bronx, New York, also known as Will Musa
  • Alban El Curraugh, 27, of the Bronx, New York
  • Aaron Lamont Johnson, 29, of Detroit, Michigan, also known as Tarrif Sharif Bey
  • Quinn Cumberlander, 40, of Pawtucket, Rhode Island
  • Lamar Dow, 34, of the Bronx, New York
  • Conrad Pierre, 29, of Baldwin, New York

One of the suspects is 17 years old. His identity was not publicly released.

All of the suspects are charged with concpiracy to commit a crime, unlawful possession of guns and ammunition, possession of a high-capacity magazine, use of body armor in a crime and improper storage of firearms in a vehicle.

Hernandez, Johnson, Dow and the unnamed teen are also charged with giving a false name to police.

The 17-year-old is being released to parental custody, with the adults all being held on $100,000 bail at the Billerica House of Correction.

Three of the people taken into custody were brought to hospitals to be evaluated, state police said. Two of them have since been released.

Wakefield police said the incident began when about eight men fled into the woods from a traffic stop on Route 128 near Parker Road shortly after 1a.m. They were "heavily armed" with handguns and rifles and "claiming to be from a group that does not recognize our laws," a statement said.

Police from state and local municipalities including Reading, Wakefield, and Stoneham were involved in the response.

State Police Col. Christopher Mason said the men identified themselves as being part of a group known as Rise of the Moors. The group's website describes them as "Moorish Americans dedicated to educating new Moors and influencing our Elders."

Police said the men said they were traveling from Rhode Island to Maine for "training."

"Their self-professed leader wanted very much known their ideology is not anti-government," Mason said. "Our investigation will provide us more insight into what their motivation, what their ideology is."

Mason said at a press briefing Saturday morning that a state police cruiser on patrol on I-95 in Wakefield around 1:30 a.m. observed two vehicles stopped in the breakdown lane with their hazard lights on.

The trooper stopped to assist the motorists and saw that they were attempting to refuel their vehicles. There were eight to 10 men outside their vehicles, and the trooper noticed they were wearing “tactical or military style” uniforms, including tactical vests and body cameras. Some of them had long rifles, others pistols or some combination of both.

"You can imagine, 11 armed individuals standing armed with long guns slung on an interstate highway at 2 in the morning certainly raises concerns, and is certainly not consistent with the firearms laws that we have here in Massachusetts," said Mason.

Mason said the trooper asked the men for their driver’s and firearms licenses, and the men said they didn’t have them. The trooper then called for backup, and other state and local police responded to assist.

At some point, Mason said a number of the men took off into the woods with their firearms. A perimeter was quickly established and two of the men were arrested, one of whom was armed.

The men are expected to face firearms charges, state police said, adding that they were working with the Middlesex County District Attorney's Office to determine criminal charges.

Authorities in Wakefield, Massachusetts say hostage negotiation teams are working with the armed men to de-escalate the situation.

The FBI Boston Division said Saturday that it was "fully engaged" with its state and local partners, but said it had no further comment on the situation given that it was still ongoing.

Initially, Wakefield police said the men appeared to be contained in the wooded area that intersects with I-95. But NBC10 Boston news crews encountered police further up North Street in Wakefield searching wooded and non-wooded areas.

The shutdown of the major highway came on a busy holiday weekend, when many people were expected to travel. The MBTA commuter rail was also impacted by the police operation.

I-95 is now fully reopened, but authorities say police activity is expected to continue in the area throughout the day.

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