An executive employed by SmartBank was forced to rob his place of employment after criminals kidnapped his family and held them hostage. According to a report in The Knoxville News Sentinel, Tanner Harris, first vice president of SmartBank, and his family were held hostage at gunpoint inside their home in Knoxville, Tennessee before being driven to the bank to steal the money.
Early Tuesday morning, two masked men entered the Harris home armed with handguns and a rifle. Mr. Harris and his wife Abbey were blindfolded and handcuffed by the criminals. Their five-month-old son was in the home at the time of the home invasion.
The couple and their child were then forced into family car and driven to the bank where Mr. Harris is employed. Mr. Harris was instructed to take an undisclosed sum of money from the bank while his wife and child remained in the car with the hostage takers.
After receiving the stolen money, the gunmen drove off in the family vehicle with the wife and child still in the car. The car and the hostages were abandoned on a dirt road in West Knox County. After being abandoned by the gunmen, Mrs. Harris was able to drive to get help. None of the family members were hurt during the kidnapping and robbery.
The method used by the suspects allowed them to get a greater amount of money from the bank than doing a simple robbery during regular operating hours. It also allowed the criminals to keep their faces off of the banks security cameras. Investigators said they believe the suspects was watching the family for some time before striking Tuesday morning.
It is suspected that the gunmen that targeted the Harris family were also the ones that kidnapped a credit union chief executive in April. FBI special agent Ed Reinhold said in an interview with WATE-TV, “There are very strong similarities between the two robberies. We haven’t determined that positively, but it is a good possibility.”
Federal investigators are searching for the suspects. They are described as two white males, one about 6ft 1in tall and one roughly 5ft 9ins tall with a stocky build. Authorities believe that the two men may be related.