Amid a heavy state police presence, the first “Rise of the Moors” member appearing Tuesday in Malden District Court on several firearms charges after a highway standoff in Wakefield repeatedly objected to a judge’s basic questions, declined to be interviewed by a public defender and insisted he had the “right to bear arms.”
Authorities listed the defendant as Quinn Cumberlander, 40, of Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The man — who told the court that was not his name and that he was a “foreign national” — was one of 11 charged after an hours-long armed standoff with Massachusetts State Police that shutdown the hightway Saturday morning.
The men, who told authorities they were traveling from Rhode Island to Maine to train on “private land,” were all charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, eight counts; unlawful possession of ammunition; use of body armor in the commission of a crime; possession of a high capacity magazine; improper storage of firearms in a vehicle; and conspiracy to commit a crime.
“We don’t break the law, we don’t oppose the law,” the man told the judge. The defendant said he was a member of a “world-regulated militia. We’re not extremists.”
A “not guilty” plea was entered by the court on the first defendant’s behalf.
He appeared Tuesday afternoon before Judge Emily A. Karstetter as dozens of supporters and family members of the group waited outside the courtroom and lined up outside the courthouse, which earlier in the day quickly reached COVID-19 capacity limits.
The defendant — who objected to several of Karstetter’s basic questions amid several interruptions from participants on a Zoom conference — told the judge he objected to the charges against him and that he wanted to appear before a federal court. The man said he refused to be represented by a free public defender. A public defender told the judge that the man had declined to be interviewed.
“I don’t need any counsel, Ma’am,” he said. He said he has his own counsel, who does not appear to be an attorney.
Prosecutors say Cumberlander, like others charged after the eight-hour standoff, was found by a state police trooper wearing camouflage fatigues and a black ski mask and holding an AR-15 style rifle. Police later found several magazines of ammunition and a variety of weapons including pistols, rifles and shotguns in a van and truck the group had pulled over to refuel. State law requires that such weapons remain unloaded in a locked container when traveling.
The investigation remains ongoing.
He said the group didn’t want to cause any fear among motorists or anyone by stopping at a gas station late at night.
Multiple family members declined to comment inside the courthouse on Tuesday.
A pair of public defenders outside the courtroom declined to comment on whether they were working on the case; they said it was a complicated matter.
The standoff was resolved “through negotiation and tactical maneuvers,” Massachusetts State Police Col. Christopher Mason said on Saturday, adding that the group members “surrendered without incident.”
Prosecutors sought a continuance of three days before holding a hearing on detaining the defendant without bail, which was set at $100,000. A hearing was set for Friday, the judge said.
According to a court official, the next to be arraigned on Tuesday are Jamhal Tavon Sanders Latimer, also known as Jamhal Talib Abdullah Bey, 29, of Providence, Rhode Island; Robert Rodriguez, 21, of the Bronx, New York; Wilfredo Hernandez, also known as Will Musa, 23, of the Bronx, New York; and John Doe #1, one of at least two defendants who refused to be identified.
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