Moorish squatter arrested, SWAT break into mansion - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Moorish squatter arrested, SWAT break into mansion

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Shelby County SWAT member uses chainsaw to cut through fence to get inside mansion grounds (FOX13 News) Shelby County SWAT member uses chainsaw to cut through fence to get inside mansion grounds (FOX13 News)
Shelby County Sheriff deputies secure Jaguar that was stopped earlier after a short chase with Tabitha Gentry (FOX13 News) Shelby County Sheriff deputies secure Jaguar that was stopped earlier after a short chase with Tabitha Gentry (FOX13 News)
Heavily armed Shelby County SWAT members with assault rifles jump out of armed vehicle toward foreclosed mansion grounds on Shady Grove Road in Memphis (FOX13 News) Heavily armed Shelby County SWAT members with assault rifles jump out of armed vehicle toward foreclosed mansion grounds on Shady Grove Road in Memphis (FOX13 News)
White Jaguar used by Tabitha Gentry stopped by Shelby County Sheriff March 7 after brief  chase (Eric Helvie / FOX13 News) White Jaguar used by Tabitha Gentry stopped by Shelby County Sheriff March 7 after brief chase (Eric Helvie / FOX13 News)
EAST MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Proclaimed Moorish National and mansion squatter Tabitha Gentry was arrested by Shelby County Sheriff deputies late Thursday evening and was charged with burglary, spokesman Chip Washington said.

Gentry left the foreclosed $3.1 million mansion on Shady Grove Road in East Memphis she was occupying in a white Jaguar shortly before 11:30 p.m.

Sheriff's deputies in black SUVs, which had been parked on the street some 70 minutes prior, and marked and unmarked cruisers took pursuit and successfully pulled over Gentry a mile away at Shady Grove and Poplar Avenue.

A 15-year-old girl, later identified as Gentry's daughter, was inside the Jaguar at the time of Gentry's arrest. The teen was taken into custody.

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"Needless to say, she wasn't very happy about the stop and she wasn't very happy about being taken into custody," Washington said. "She sweared a lot, some obscenities used, and statements to her rights as a sovereign citizen."

Earlier Thursday Gentry, a sovereign citizen, was ordered by a bank to vacate the mansion she had been squatting in with her children. She had until 2:30 p.m. to remove herself from the estate grounds.

Washington said his office received a complaint that was made by a grandparent of one of the children inside the mansion. The grandparent said the child was in danger. A mission was then set in place by the sheriff's office.

Less than five minutes after Washington briefed the media about Gentry's arrest, a warrant to get inside the mansion grounds was signed Thursday evening by a judge. Soon after a heavily armed sheriff SWAT team with assault rifles assembled.

An armed vehicle drove up to the fence and a SWAT member jumped out with a saw. He proceeded to cut through the fence to gain access to the grounds.

SWAT members then gained access to the mansion, but after searching room by room they found no one inside.

"This came to a peaceful end,' Washington said. "As we've seen in the past, some of these situations don't come to a peaceful end but we're happy the kids will be in a better place and the mother will have to pay the price for the crimes that she's committed."

Gentry, also known as Abka Re Bey, was charged with aggravated burglary, theft of property over $60,000 and criminal trespass. She is being held in the Shelby County jail downtown on $2 million bond and will face a judge Monday morning.

Gentry would need to post $200,000 to make bail.

The female teen was released into her aunt's custody and another minor child was placed in the Department of Children's Services custody, Washington said.

According to an affidavit, Renasant Bank filed a complaint with Memphis Police on March 5 regarding squatters living at the foreclosed Shady Grove Road property. Gentry placed a chain and a lock on the front gates of the estate so that Renasant Bank could not enter.

Gentry filed documentation with the county registrar claiming rights to the Shady Grove estate, identifying herself as a member of the Moorish National Movement and refusing the recognize the laws of Tennessee or the United States.

Inside the multi million-dollar East Memphis mansion that's became Gentry's palatial fortress of defiance, the cell phone traffic was at a fever pitch on Thursday. Worried family members were trying to persuade her to exit the mansion she and her six children, ranging in age from 11 years to 14 months, have occupied as squatters under the banner of the Moorish National Movement.

Gentry's determined occupation would appear to be part of a total metamorphosis in the personality of the 32-year old Horn Lake, Miss., woman. A check of her past indicates she was an athletic and smart student at Horn Lake High School, where she played basketball and earned academic achievement as well.

Family members FOX13 News spoke to on Thursday said Gentry's life took a sharp turn toward the radical when she met and fell in love with Darrin Fleming. He introduced her to the Moors, culminating in her joining the organization in December 2011 and taking the name of Abka Re Bey. However, changing her name was just part of the change in attitude and appearance.

"Her appearance, for one," Trenisha Gentry said, her cousin. "She has never had braids and she was never part of no Moorish Nation or something like that. Ever since she met him she's changed. She really has. We noticed she started having more things like she's got a huge truck, an Excursion.

In addition to her burglary arrest just before midnight by deputies, Gentry could also find herself in more trouble after failing to appear in November 2012 to answer to allegations she attempted to run over two Memphis policemen after a traffic stop. That case could be headed toward a Shelby County grand jury for indictment.

The case is still being investigated by the Shelby County District Attorney General Task Force. Washington said other suspects are being identified and more charges are likely.

"I think there's going to be some additional charges and there might be some additional arrests along the way as the investigation moves forward," Washington said.

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FOX13 News reporter Matt Gerien and Scott Madaus contributed to this report.

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