MEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — Eleven members of a self-identified militia group involved in an hours-long standoff with Massachusetts State Police over the weekend faced a judge Tuesday.
The standoff, which held up traffic on I-95 North for several hours Saturday morning, began when a trooper noticed the group was traveling with two cars-worth of firearms and ammunition. 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 standoff lasted until late Saturday morning, when the group surrendered to police. As the men were taken into custody, troopers found three AR-15 rifles, two pistols, a bolt-action rifle, a shotgun and a short-barrel rifle. An investigation into each of the suspects revealed none of them had a license to carry firearms.
One by one, all 11 suspects appeared before Malden District Court Judge Emily Karstetter on Tuesday. Each faces various firearms charges, including unlawful possession of guns and ammunition, possession of a high-capacity magazine, use of body armor in a crime, improper storage of firearms in a vehicle, and conspiracy.
The first, Quinn Cumberlander, 40, of Pawtucket, told Karstetter he is a foreign national and declined to speak with a state-appointed attorney.
“Do you understand that you are charged with a number of crimes?” Karstetter asked Cumberlander.
“No, I do not,” he replied. “I object to these charges.”
Karstetter repeatedly tried to reason with Cumberlander, however, he continued to argue with her, explaining why he feels he doesn’t need to be held without bail.
“We don’t break the law. We aren’t against the law,” he said. “I have a Second Amendment right, a right to bear arms.”
The judge ultimately ordered him held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing.
The group’s self-proclaimed leader, Jamhal Latimer, 29, of Providence, told Karstetter he’s not a dangerous person and there’s no proof that he was acting dangerously, especially since he was livestreaming the entire ordeal on YouTube and had turned on his body camera.
“I don’t understand how these charges can be brought against me,” he said. “There is no proof, no allegation that I am dangerous … our intentions were to never hurt anyone.”
“Your argument that you are not dangerous is an argument you can certainly make at the hearing on whether or not you are dangerous, which is what we are scheduling,” Karstetter explained.
After determining Latimer was not knowingly waiving his right to counsel and did not fully understand how the court system works, Karstetter told him that he would be assisted by an attorney prior to the dangerousness hearing.
Like Cumberlander, Karstetter ordered Latimer held without bail.
The other eight suspects include two men who refused to identify themselves and a 17-year-old juvenile.
In court, one of those men only identified himself as a “free Moor” and repeatedly interrupted Karstetter during the proceedings.
“I am a human being and I feel like I’m being treated like an animal,” he said. “This is my life you are playing with here.”
After warning the man several times not to disrupt the proceedings, Karstetter ordered him to leave the courtroom and watch the remainder of the hearing virtually.
Several of the suspects requested Latimer represent him as their legal counsel, however, Karstetter told them she couldn’t allow that because he’s not a licensed lawyer, adding that “he is in lockup right now.”
Of the other six suspects, four men are from the Bronx, New York, and were identified as as Robert Rodriguez, 21, Wilfredo Hernandez, 23, Alban El Curraugh, 27, and Lamar Dow, 34. The last two suspects were identified as Conrad Pierre, 29, of Baldwin, New York, and Aaron Johnson, 29, of Detroit, Michigan.