Man wanted in animal hospital robbery, kidnapping now in police - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Man wanted in animal hospital robbery, kidnapping now in police custody

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Robert Jolly Rhinehardt (Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office) Robert Jolly Rhinehardt (Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office)
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Police in Charlotte have arrested a man they say robbed an animal hospital last week, kidnapped an employee and left the scene in the company vehicle.

Robert Jolly Rhinehardt, 53, was arrested Thursday morning and charged with three counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon and three counts of second degree kidnapping, according to the news release from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

The charges stem from two separate robberies incidents police say Rhinehardt was behind.

The first one occurred on July 13 around 11:37 a.m. when Rhinehardt used a knife to force the victim to withdraw money from an ATM on the 4100 block of Welling Avenue.

The second incident occurred at the Freedom Animal Hospital on Freedom Drive Friday afternoon.

The office manager told WBTV she was covering the front desk during lunch when a man came in.

"He said he had a dog that needed shots and he gave me a letter" the manager said. "When he gave me the letter was when he grabbed me and put his arm around me and put the gun to my neck and said where's your money."

At approximately 12:45 p.m., officers responded to the hospital for the report of an armed robbery. Once on scene, they were told that a black male, approximately 6'0" to 6'3", 260 lbs., bald or shaved head, in his mid-to-late forties, had entered the business armed with a gun and taken money.

The office manager said Rhinehardt forced the veterinarian to hand over the office money, then demanded the women give him money from their purses.

She said "he made me lay down on the floor and took the doctor and left the building."

Police say Rhinehardt took the doctor and left in the business' mini van.

About half an hour after she was kidnapped, and while officers were still on the scene investigating at the animal hospital, Major Bruce Bellamy said police received a call - from the doctor - "indicating she had been released from the vehicle and was further down Freedom Drive."

Rhinehardt allegedly drove the victim to an ATM and tried to force the victim to pull money from her bank account. She told police he then drove back to Freedom Drive and released her in the 5400 block. She was not hurt.

Meanwhile, Minister Ross Brashear of Westview Christian Church on Freedom Drive was doing some yard work.

"There was a lady walking up right up there coming toward me and she said I need to use your phone. I've just been robbed and kidnapped" the Minister told WBTV.

Minister Brashear said he took her inside, she called her office to tell them she was fine and he went outside. He said he heard a helicopter, realized it was the police and waved. Officers then responded on the ground.

Minister Brashear said "these are scary times when people can just walk into your place of business, kidnap you, take what you work hard for."

The officer manager at Freedom Animal Hospital has a message for the community.

"I just want everybody to be vigilant - so when you get out of your car or go into your car - pay attention to who is around you, who is walking" she says.

The vehicle was found unoccupied around 3:15 p.m. on the 4000 block of Freedom Drive.

Investigators say Rhinehardt's picture was captured on the ATM's surveillance camera.

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