Pastor charged in connection with 9 armed robberies in Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte-Mecklenburg police arrested a Charlotte pastor wanted in connection with nine armed robberies from Charlotte businesses.

John Thomas Lindsey, 47, who is a pastor at True Love Church of Refuge on Nations Ford Road, was taken into custody Wednesday morning and charged with nine counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon, nine counts of conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

(John Thomas Lindsey)

Lindsey is charged in connection with robberies from a two Sam's Mart stores, two 7-Elevens, a Family Dollar store and an additional Circle K.

Police said that Lindsey robbed the Family Dollar in northwest Charlotte in October and fired a shot inside.

Sources told Channel 9 that drugs were the motive for the robberies.

Channel 9 reporter Joe Bruno went to the church, but the doors were locked. Bruno called a phone number listed on the church's sign but no one answered, so he went to the pastor's home.

“We have no comment. Thank you,” a person at the home said.

“Is there anything you want to say to the church?” Bruno asked.

“Thank you. Have a good day, sir,” the person inside said.

(Reporter Joe Bruno asks Lindsey about the allegations)

After Channel 9 started asking questions, the church released the following statement, denouncing Lindsey:

"We, the leadership and membership of True Love Church of Refuge, are deeply saddened and disappointed that our leader and brother, John Thomas Lindsey, is facing charges associated with criminal activity. Though we denounce any involvement he may have had, we love him and will continue to pray for him. The ministry will continue to stand strong despite the latest allegations and will continue to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom."

Business owners next to the church said they were shocked at the pastor's arrest.

“It's something you wouldn't expect from somebody supposedly a religious person,” one man said.

Police said they were led to Lindsey by a second man they arrested, 24-year-old Fernando Carillo-Hernandez.

(Fernando Carillo-Hernandez)

Carillo-Hernandez was arrested Tuesday and charged with three counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon and three counts of conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon. Police said he was responsible for three Circle K robberies.

Carillo-Hernandez does not appear to be affiliated with the church.

Bruno dug through court records and found two convictions for Lindsey on drug charges dating back to the 1990s.

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