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‘Tired of working 2 jobs,’ bank teller broke into customer’s Bel Air home and demanded money, police say

Bank teller Nathan Michael Newell, 19, of Bel Air, was charged in a home invasion of a Bel Air home where two bank customers live.
Bank teller Nathan Michael Newell, 19, of Bel Air, was charged in a home invasion of a Bel Air home where two bank customers live. (Harford)

A Harford County bank teller told police he was “tired of working two jobs,” after he was arrested for allegedly breaking into the home of a customer who had recently made several large withdrawals from the bank and assaulting him.

The 78-year-old victim was taken to Johns Hopkins Bayview for treatment of a broken leg, a bruised orbital area, two loose teeth and heart issues after the attack. He remained in the intensive care unit as of Wednesday, according to court records. The man’s stepdaughter, who tried to intervene during the incident, was treated at the scene for a cut on the side of her face.

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Nathan Michael Newell, 19, the unit block of Northview Place in Bel Air, was arrested Wednesday and is charged with home invasion, robbery, first- and third-degree burglary, first-degree assault and two counts of second-degree assault.

Newell remained held without bail at the Harford County Detention Center, following a bail review hearing in front of District Court Judge Mimi Cooper Friday.

In confessing to the home invasion after his arrest, Newell told police he did it for the money and was tired of working two jobs and numerous hours a week, and that he was trying to get his own place, according to charging documents..

Michael MacPherson, president and CEO of Freedom Federal Credit Union, confirmed Newell was an employee and arrested at the Fountain Green branch in the 1300 block of Churchville Road.

“We are shocked and appalled to hear of the events that led to the assault and injury of a longtime member of our credit union. Our thoughts go out to him, and his family, during this difficult time,” MacPherson said in an emailed statement.

“We take this situation very seriously. Every member’s safety and security is our highest priority," he said. "Over our history, Freedom’s fundamental responsibility has been to ensure we meet the financial needs of our membership, and the residents of Harford County, and that all our operations are performed safely and soundly, and our personnel meet the highest service standards.”

The credit union is cooperating fully with the police in their investigation, he said.

Sheriff’s Office deputies were called to a home in the 1800 block of Still Pond Way in Bel Air around 8:30 p.m. Monday for a report of a burglary.

Deputies were told an unknown male wearing a mask, later identified as Newell, rang the doorbell and when the male residentopened the door, Newell allegedly forced his way into the home.

Newell began assaulting the man, including trying to strangle him, until the man’s 57-year-old stepdaughter intervened, charging document allege.

The woman put Newell in a headlock, fearing he would kill her stepfather, according to the charging documents. Newell allegedly slammed her into a wall to get her off of him, according to the documents.

At one point, Newell allegedly held both of them by the throat and kept asking where the money was, according to court records.

As Newell allegedly began punching the man in the face, the stepdaughter retrieved her stepfather’s gun, which he kept in a table in the living room.

She told police she pointed it at Newell, but he did not seem fazed, according to charging documents. The woman said she pulled the trigger three times, but the gun wasn’t loaded, according to court records.

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Newell ran upstairs and the woman ran to a nearby home to call police. Newell fled the area between the row of townhouses before deputies arrived, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Nothing was reported missing, including from the master bedroom where Newell allegedly emptied a nightstand full of papers. Nothing else appeared to be disturbed, according to court records.

Additional deputies responded and, with assistance from police dog, searched the area in an unsuccessful attempt to find the suspect.

During the struggle, the burglar’s mask came off and both victims told police they could identify him if they saw him again. The male victim told police he had withdrawn several thousand dollars over the course of a few days from a bank in Bel Air, and Newell looked like one of the tellers there, according to court records.

Deputies went to the bank and were told only one man — Newell — worked there. His photograph was shown in a lineup to both victims, who selected Newell as the person who allegedly attacked them.

Newell was arrested at the bank on Wednesday and taken to the detention center.

He had worked at Freedom Federal for less than nine months, and once the charges were filed, Newell was immediately terminated, MacPherson said.

It was the first time for such a situation in the credit union’s 66 years, and it prompted a thorough review of Newell’s employee file and the process to hire him.

“Our procedures met all federal and state regulations, including rigorous background checks, credit checks, state, federal and national criminal records checks and previous employment verification,” MacPherson said. “There was nothing revealed during this process, or subsequently, to indicate the potential for such an outcome. However, as a result of this unprecedented experience, we are doing everything in our power to prevent a similar occurrence.”

At Friday’s bail review hearing, public defender Steven Levine said Newell had no prior contact with the justice system and had been working at the credit union and Wegmans prior to his arrest. His client is a graduate of Edgewood High School and has been taking classes at Harford Community College, Levine said.

Levine also said Newell was dealing with prior trauma of his father and older brother dying. He asked Cooper to set a bail amount for Newell.

Assistant State’s Attorney Kristin Timer said “the allegations in this case are particularly egregious,” however.

She described the alleged home invasion and assault, saying the male victim had been strangled by Newell for about 20 seconds. Timer noted that the man’s stepdaughter pointing a handgun at Newell and pulling the trigger “did not faze the defendant.”

She described the male victim’s injuries and said he remained in intensive care as of Wednesday.

“We believe that he is a substantial danger to the public,” Timer said, recommending that Newell remain in jail without bail.

Cooper asked Newell, who appeared via video link from the jail, if he wanted to say anything. The defendant spoke briefly, but could not be heard as the video and audio were experiencing glitches through a significant portion of the bail review session, including during Newell’s hearing.

Cooper acknowledged that Newell does not have a prior criminal record, but she also took the facts of the case, as presented by the state, into account, noting the defendant had allegedly “victimized someone who was very vulnerable.” She ordered him to remain held without bail.

Aegis reporter David Anderson contributed to this article.

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