The FBI and state police are investigating seven people — from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Singapore — who were allegedly found inside the confines of the Quabbin Reservoir’s watershed area shortly after midnight Tuesday, state police said.
Trooper Adam LeBlanc was on patrol at 12:30 a.m. when he noticed two vehicles parked on Route 9 near the middle entrance to the Quabbin and stopped to investigate. He saw five men and two women, who he said he later learned were from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Singapore, emerging from the woods headed to the vehicles.
State police spokesman David Procopio said the “young adults” told police they had stopped to look at the reservoir because it was of interest to them. The men told police they are chemical engineers and had graduated from the nearby University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
All seven will be summoned to Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown, where they will face trespassing charges. Their names will not be released until they are formally charged, state police said.
They had addresses in Amherst, Cambridge, Sunderland, Northampton and New York City, police said, adding that their citizenship status was unknown.
Because area water supplies are a potential target for terrorism, state police who patrol watershed areas are always on heightened alert for suspicious activity, Mr. Procopio said. The Quabbin Reservoir provides drinking water to the Boston area. When it is full, it holds 412 billion gallons of water. The reservoir comprises 39 square miles and is surrounded by hundreds of acres of forest land.
Quabbin Park was closed for some time after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the roads atop the Goodnough Dike and Winsor Dam have been closed to motor vehicles since then. In the hours after the Boston Marathon bombing, the park was again closed but reopened the following day.
After finding the alleged trespassers, police were concerned and did extensive background checks on them using the Warrant Management System and International Criminal Police Organization. Information about the seven was provided to the state’s Fusion Center, which helps police departments share information.