I want to indicate that a gathering of people who witnessed an activity appeared to be suspicious of what was going on around them. I'd like to write a sentence along the lines of:
A group was standing on the corner looking suspicious.
However, the sentence as-is could mean two separate things.
The group appeared to be suspicious of the activity
The group looked like they deserved suspicion for the activity.
See the first two definitions of suspicious in Merriam-Webster.
Of course, I first consulted a thesaurus to see what possible candidates would only mean suspecting others, and not deserving of suspicion.
Words like apprehensive, doubtful, or mistrusting don't match the intention of the sentence. The closest word I could find is leery. According to both OED and Merriam-Webster, "leery" is usually used with a preposition ("of" or "about") as in "He was leery of strangers."
To me, it looks awkward to write:
A group was standing on the corner looking leery.
What word or words can describe "appearing suspicious of something" without possibly implying an appearance that is itself suspect? Phrases are fine with me as long as they can fit into the structure "A group was standing on the corner... ______"