BOSTON (REUTERS) – Residents in a suburban Boston neighbourhood were asked to “shelter in place” early Saturday (July 3) as an armed standoff between 8 to 10 militia members and police forced the closure of a US interstate highway.
Two people were taken into custody before dawn and at least one gun was recovered, police said, following a standoff that started after 1am along Interstate 95 in Wakefield, a city about 14 miles (22km) north of Boston, when a Massachusetts State Police officer pulled over two cars.
In the vehicles were about 10 people wearing military style clothes and carrying rifles and pistols, police said.
The cars stopped in a breakdown lane and the group’s leader told police that they were travelling from Rhode Island to Maine for “training,” police said in a news conference.
The officer asked for identification and permits for the weapons, but the people refused and scattered into the nearby woods, still armed, police said.
No shots have been reported fired and no injuries were reported. Police said that the group self-identifies as a militia, but the name of the group was not released.
The standoff continued into early Saturday morning and State Police Colonel Christopher Mason said in a 7am news conference, “We’re committed to a negotiation with them, having a conversation, we’re going to utilise time. Time is our ally in this.”
Some of the group members were talking to police in a breakdown lane near their cars, others remained in the woods, local media including the Boston Globe, reported.
“The self-professed leader wants it very much known that their ideology is not anti-government,” Mr 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.”
As a precaution, residents in Wakefield neighbourhoods near the scene were asked to stay indoors.