MEMPHIS, Tenn. (CBS Charlotte) – A family of squatters was forcefully removed from a mansion in which they had taken up residence by a SWAT team who broke through the mansion’s front gate using an armed vehicle.
According to WMC-TV, the deadline for the family illegally living in the $3 million dollar home to leave came and went Thursday morning, with the squatters staying put despite having no legal permission to reside there.
The trouble began earlier this week, when neighbors and frequent visitors to the area reportedly noticed chains and several signs discouraging trespassing added to the front gate of the home.
“The signage said the bank cannot own property, and that they had the original deed to the house and that they were taking them to court and there were eight other properties,” pool cleaner Daniel Brown told WMC.
The family reportedly described themselves as Moorish American Nationals, and took up residence in the house without paying for it.
After the deadline for the family to move out lapsed, local authorities took action, according to WHBQ-TV.
“You simply cannot go out, seize houses that are not yours, and produce fake documents and expect to remain there, you will go to prison,” Southern Poverty Law Center employee Mark Potok told WHBQ.
A warrant, signed by a judge, was obtained Thursday evening. Soon after, armed members of the Shelby County SWAT team broke into the mansion.
SCSO spokesman Chip Washington told WHBQ that a complaint filed by a grandparent of one of the children living illegally in the home was allegedly what brought police to force their way into the residence.
A car chase reportedly ensued after police broke in, between deputies from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and several of the squatters who attempted to flee the scene.
Soon after the chase began, however, it was over, and one squatter – identified by WHBQ as Tabitha Gentry – was arrested and charged with burglary. Another party was also reportedly taken into police custody, and it was learned that Gentry stayed in the home with her six children.
Neighbors are still baffled by the occurrence.
“I’d like to know how they can still, a family can just move into a house in our neighborhood and just squat and live out of the house without the city police or somebody coming to take them out of the house,” local resident Rodney Baber told WHBQ. “It just doesn’t seem to be the right thing to be going on.”