WAKEFIELD (CBS) — Wakefield and Reading residents have been asked to shelter in place as Massachusetts State Police deal with a standoff that has shut down Interstate 95 in Wakefield. The highway was closed in both directions between Lynnfield and Stoneham Saturday morning.
Two people were arrested around 6:45 a.m. State Police said they had “several armed persons accounted for at this scene” who were “refusing to comply with orders to provide their information and put down their weapons.”
The standoff stems from an incident hours earlier where a trooper stopped to help two cars pulled over in the breakdown lane. State Police said it appeared eight-to-10 people in the cars were refueling but the trooper noticed the men were in full military-style uniforms, some with long rifles, pistols, and some with both. The trooper asked for driver’s licenses and proper licensing for the guns but they did not have any available.
As the trooper called for backup, the group spread out into the nearby woods.
“We’re committed to a negotiation with them, having a conversation, we’re going to utilize time, time is our ally in this,” said State Police Colonel Christopher Mason.
Mason said he has seen body camera footage of the initial interactions and applauded the trooper for being patient with the group.
According to I-Team sources, the men told police they don’t respect the laws of the United States or see the authority of police, but they also want a peaceful resolution. They would like to go on their way peacefully. The group has allegedly told negotiators that they are not extremists, anti-government, or threatening police, sources said.
“They have a group of people here who are obviously armed and dangerous and who are talking about some type of ideology,” WBZ security expert and former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said. “You don’t know how far people like this are willing to go.”
Davis said he thought it sounded like “some sort of militia group.”
“Just sit tight. Don’t go outside. Stay in your house and keep an eye on TV,” Davis asked Wakefield and Reading residents who are sheltering in place.
“It is extremely unusual for Massachusetts State Police to shut down a major highway,” he said.
Wakefield Police Chief Steven Skory said residents are allowed to leave the town but should avoid the impacted area near North Avenue, Parker Road, and Ash Street.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information becomes available.