PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The father of a Providence man who was reportedly involved in an hours-long standoff between a self-identified militia group and Massachusetts State Police troopers over the weekend tells 12 News his son is not an extremist.
The standoff began early Saturday morning, when a trooper noticed two cars were pulled over on I-95 North with their hazard lights blinking after they’d run out of fuel.
When the trooper stopped to help, he noticed some of the occupants of the vehicles were clad in tactical, military-style gear and armed with long guns and pistols. Police said members of the group told the trooper they were traveling to Maine from Rhode Island for “training.”
The men refused to put down their weapons or comply with requests from authorities, claiming they were from a group that doesn’t adhere to federal nor state laws, police said. That group was later identified by authorities as “Rise of the Moors.”
The group then ran into a wooded area off the highway, and police were forced to shut down a portion of I-95 as they attempted to reason with the suspects.
The standoff lasted until late Saturday morning, when the group surrendered to police. In total, 10 men and one male juvenile were arrested.
Among the group was Jamhal Talib Abdullah Bey, 29, of Providence.
Steven Latimer, Jamhal’s father, said his son has no ill will in his heart and the entire standoff was a misunderstanding.
“I know my son isn’t a terrorist,” he said, adding that he believes Jamhal is one of the group’s co-founders. “He’s not antigovernment, he’s not antipolice.”
Steven said his son is a loving father and served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
“From my point of view, how they were portraying him isn’t the son that I know that I have,” he said. “He’s a family man. He’s a great kid.”
In a live broadcast from the standoff on the Rise of the Moors YouTube page, Jahmal said he reassured the responding officers that they are not extremists.
“I reassured them that these men here are not going to be pointing guns at them,” Jahmal said in the video, adding that they wanted a peaceful resolution to the standoff.
Steven said he’s relieved the standoff ended the way it did and his son wasn’t hurt.
“I know he was going live, and then after [he went live], it was just kind of a sit-and-wait type of thing, where you kind of just hope your phone doesn’t ring because you don’t want that call,” he said. “I’m happy I didn’t get that call.”
When asked why he thought his son was training in Maine with the group, Steven simply said, “It’s something that he always does.”
“I don’t think it was anything,” he said. “He’s always training … at least I always see him training.”
Steven said from his understanding, the training they conduct is for self-defense.
“There are people who go to gun ranges and home martial arts classes or whatever, it is what they do,” Steven said. “People train all the time in the woods.”
“He never went out or hurt anybody,” he continued. “They didn’t storm any buildings or police departments or anything like that.”
Since Jamhal’s arrest, Steven said his family has been struggling.
“We don’t have any information about what’s going on,” he said. “I haven’t been able to see him, I called to try to go see if I can visit him, but I guess the status that he’s in … he hasn’t been arraigned, so he can’t get visitors or phone calls.”
Jamhal and the 10 other suspects involved in the standoff are scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday morning in Malden District Court.