A pastor in North Carolina has been arrested and charged in connection with nine armed robberies in the Charlotte area. John Thomas Lindsey, 47, who leads True Love Church of Refuge, was taken into custody on Wednesday and charged with nine counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon, nine counts of conspiracy to commit armed robbery, and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
He is accused of robbing four Circle K stores, two Sam’s Mart locations, two 7-Eleven stores and a Family Dollar outlet. WSOC-TV reports that the motive for the robberies was to obtain money to buy drugs. Lindsey has two prior drug convictions from the 1990’s.
“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,” his congregation said in a statement this week. “The ministry will continue to stand strong despite the latest allegations and will continue to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom,” it said.
Police were led to Lindsey after first arresting Fernando Carillo-Hernandez, 24, who was taken into custody on Tuesday for committing three of the robberies. Officials had released photographs from surveillance footage in asking for help in identifying the suspects. Carillo-Hernandez is not believed to be affiliated with True Love Church of Refuge.