Massachusetts state police said nine suspects were taken into custody following an hours-long standoff that prompted the partial closure of Interstate 95 on Saturday.
Police said the suspects included two people who had been arrested earlier in the day.
The standoff shut down a portion of I-95 for much of the morning, causing major traffic problems during the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Authorities said the southbound interstate had reopened, but northbound lanes remained closed.
In Massachusetts, I-95 runs from the Rhode Island line around Boston and to the New Hampshire line. Wakefield is just east of where I-95 and I-93 meet, north of Boston.
The standoff began around 2am when police noticed two cars pulled over on I-95 with hazard lights on after they had apparently run out of fuel, authorities said at a press briefing.
Between eight to 10 men were clad in military-style gear and armed with long guns and pistols, said Col Christopher Mason of Massachusetts state police. He added that they were headed to Maine from Rhode Island for “training”.
The men refused to put down their weapons or comply with authorities’ orders, claiming to be from a group “that does not recognize our laws” before taking off into a wooded area, police said.
Officials used negotiators to interact with the other suspects. Mason said the “self-professed leader” of the group wanted it known that they were not anti-government.
“I think the investigation that follows from this interaction will provide us more insight into what their motivation, what their ideology is,” Mason said.
Mason said he had no knowledge of the group, but it was not unusual for the state police to encounter people who have “sovereign citizen ideology”, although he did not know if the people involved in the Wakefield stand-off were a part of that.
“We train to those encounters,” Mason said. “We very much understand, I guess, the philosophy that underlies that mindset.”
Residents in Wakefield and Reading were asked to shelter in place. Wakefield police said no threats had been made but the men were considered armed and dangerous.