Police in standoff with armed group that 'doesn't recognise US laws'

3 July 2021, 16:30 | Updated: 3 July 2021, 16:39

Officers are currently in a standoff with armed men who 'do not recognise US laws'
Officers are currently in a standoff with armed men who 'do not recognise US laws'. Picture: Massachusetts State Police
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Police in Massachusetts are in a standoff with a group of "heavily armed men" who are claiming to "not recognise US laws".

Roughly eight men carrying rifles and handguns fled into woods in Wakefield, a suburb of Boston, in the country's north-east during a traffic stop early on Saturday morning.

Officers said the group are claiming to be from a group that "does not recognise our laws" and that they have identified themselves as part of a group called "Rise of the Moors".

Local police said the men "exited their vehicles and fled into the woodline" near Interstate Highway 95 at around 1:30am (6:30am BST).

They were reportedly wearing military-style clothing, carrying tactical gear such as body cameras and helmets, and had long guns slung over their shoulders.

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State Police Colonel Christopher Mason said the group told officials they were travelling from nearby Maine to Rhode Island for "training".

"Their self-professed leader wanted it very much known their ideology is not anti-government," Col Mason added.

"Our investigation will provide us more insight into what their motivation, what their ideology is."

They have posted videos on YouTube insisting that they are peaceful and the men in the footage claim to have been "abiding by the federal laws and judicial opinions" of the US, however they do not specify state laws. 

The group also stated that they are not sovereign citizens, black identity extremists, anti-police or anti-government.

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Police made two initial arrests before the majority of the group fled into the woods, which is now surrounded by officers.

Parts of the highway have been closed and shelter-in-place orders have been established for those who live nearby.

“We're trying to successfully and peacefully resolve this,” Col Mason said.

As of 10:30am Saturday (3:30pm BST), the “remaining suspects" were taken into custody by Massachusetts State Police's (MSP) Special Tactical Operations Team.

Seven additional suspects are being transported for booking, with nine people in total now with the police.

The two vehicles the group were in are being searched, along with the surrounding woodland.

The Wakefield Police Department said in an early morning statement: "Approximately 8 males fled into the woods carrying rifles and handguns and appear to be contained in the wooded area adjacent to the highway.

"No threats were made, but these men should be considered armed and dangerous."

MSP tweeted early on Saturday: "We have several armed persons accounted for at this scene on Rt 95. They are refusing to comply with orders to provide their information and put down their weapons.

"We are asking residents of Wakefield and Reading to shelter in place at this time."

No injuries have been reported and no shots have been fired.