Tennessee family released unharmed after harrowing kidnapping
Kidnappers released the family of a SmartBank executive after forcing the father to rob a bank. The FBI is investigating whether or not the incident may be related to a similar kidnapping three months earlier.
A bank executive and his family were released after being kidnapped at gunpoint in Knoxville, Tenn., the FBI confirmed Friday.
The kidnapping took place after two armed men forced their way into the home of Tanner Harris, the first vice president of SmartBank, and forced him and his family into their own car at gunpoint. Mr. Harris was made to withdraw an undisclosed amount of money from a Knoxville bank while his wife and 5-month-old child were held at gunpoint in the car.
“Harris handed the men the money and the two gunmen drove off with his wife and infant still inside the car. Harris was left standing in the bank parking lot,” Fox News reported.
Harris’s wife was then driven to an abandoned dirt road where the robbers left her and her child unharmed. Mrs. Harris subsequently drove to a nearby construction site where she borrowed a cell phone and called 911.
"She's extremely brave. I don't know what I would do in that situation. I'll have to give them a lot of support. They're a great family, wonderful people. My heart just reaches out to them," one of the Harris family’s neighbors told the local TV channel WYMT.
Ed Reinhold, the FBI special agent in charge of the Knoxville office, said the kidnappers could be the same people who kidnapped a credit union CEO's family three months ago.
“There are very strong similarities between the two robberies,” Mr. Reinhold, told the Knoxville News Sentinel. “We haven’t determined that positively, but it is a good possibility.”
The two gunmen covered their faces with masks, but they were described as white men. One was between 6 feet, 1 inch tall and 6 feet, 2 inches and had a thin build. The other was 5 feet, 9 inches to 6 feet tall, with a stockier build.
Law enforcement officials advised bank employees to pay attention to unfamiliar vehicles parked in their neighborhoods or driving around their vicinity repeatedly.