‘Freedom Fighter Bandit’ captured in Tennessee

‘Freedom Fighter Bandit’ captured in Tennessee

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Metropolitan Nashville Police Department
Nilsa Urena
  • Story Highlights
  • Nilsa Urena is accused of a crime spree beginning in October 2017.
  • She was arrested Saturday after a bank robbery in Tennessee.
  • FBI officials believe Urena recruited teenagers in some of her alleged heists.

The “Freedom Fighter Bandit,” a woman wanted in connection with nine bank robberies in metro Atlanta, has been captured, the FBI said Monday.

Nilsa Marie Urena, 25, was arrested Saturday, shortly after she robbed a credit union near Nashville, Tenn., FBI spokesman Kevin Rowson said in a news release. 

A woman believed by the FBI to be Nilsa Marie Urena during a robbery at a Tennessee credit union. (Credit: FBI)

Urena earned her nickname because she allegedly told tellers she was robbing banks “for the movement” and “for the streets,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported.

When she didn’t get the money she demanded, she allegedly told tellers she would blow up the bank.

The crime spree began Oct. 30 at a Wells Fargo Bank in Stone Mountain, where Urena presented a demand note, police said. When she couldn’t get any cash, police said she drove 20 miles to Clayton County and entered the Associated Credit Union in Ellenwood. 

“As the bank teller gathered the money (to provide to the bank robber), the robber stated to the teller that she would pray for her and also reiterated that the bomb would go off at any time,” Clayton County Sgt. Ashanti Marbury said in a press release.

Officials identified Urena as a suspect in November, when two teenagers were arrested in connection with a bank robbery, The AJC previously reported. 

One of those teenagers, who allegedly had stolen money and a handgun in his possession when he was arrested at school, told Channel 2 Action News Urena used threats to force him into helping her with the robbery. 

“In the first bank I went in, she told me to give the people the note,” the 17-year-old told Channel 2. “I was scared to give the people the note ’cause I didn’t want to do it.”

Authorities said Urena’s latest local robbery occurred Jan. 25, when she hit the Hamilton State Bank on Hardee Street in Dallas.

Donning a white hoodie, the FBI said Urena walked into the bank, told employees she had a bomb and demanded they not call police. 

Urena was accompanied by a thinly-built male in his 20s dressed in all black, Rowson said. 

In related news:

The latest robbery took place Thursday at the Hamilton Bank on Hardee Street in Dallas.

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