Jefferey Ritchie was delivering Papa Johns pizza to two teenage boys at a northeast Charlotte home Monday night when he said they attacked him and tried to steal his car.
Ritchie, 46, said the boys met him in front of a house in the 2800 block of Black Walnut Lane around 7:30 p.m. As one of the boys handed him money for the pizza, Ritchie said the other slammed a wrench into the back of his head.
I was bleeding pretty badly, Ritchie said. I think I went into shock.
Police say search dogs helped them track down the boys, ages 14 and 15, who now have been charged in connection with three other robberies in northeast Charlotte.
In three of the four cases, the young suspects were trying to steal cars from their victims, police reports show. And the suspects were armed in two of the attempted robberies, police say.
Authorities arent releasing the suspects names because they are juveniles.
Ritchie, who has worked as a Papa Johns delivery man for 10 years, said Monday was the first time anyone has ever tried to rob him.
After they hit him in the head, Ritchie said he began to scream and took off running down the street. He said he saw the boys get into his car for several seconds, but they eventually ran away without taking it.
I really did freak out, and I think it startled them a lot because they didnt really follow me or anything, Ritchie said Tuesday. I think they thought I would just pass out on the ground.
The string of robberies that police suspect the teens were involved in all happened late Sunday afternoon and Monday evening in the same two-mile area in northeast Charlotte in the University City area.
The first occurred at 4:15 p.m. Sunday when the suspects used a wooden board to threaten a 29-year-old man outside of Autumn Park Apartments in the 8400 block of Digital Drive, off IBM Drive, a police report shows.
The victim said he felt threatened by the board and gave the suspects his cash and cell phone before they ran away.
Thirty minutes later and half a mile away, the same boys allegedly tried to steal 57-year-old Ruth Keens car from her in her work parking lot at 6800 Solectron Drive.
Keen said she was walking to her 2011 Kia Soul when the two boys approached her. She was immediately suspicious of them, because she thought it was odd for two youths to be outside the Flextronics office, a company that designs and tests electronics, on a Sunday afternoon.
Keen said her suspicions grew as one of the boys stood near the Kias driver-side door and the other stopped in between Keen and her passenger door.
The boy closest to her said, Im not here to hurt you, maam. I just want your car, Keen remembered.
They looked sort of inexperienced, but I was very, very scared, Keen said. I was telling them they were trying to throw their lives away.
Keen said when one of the boys started to walk toward her, she ran back inside the office building and asked a security guard to call the police. The boys ran away without taking her car, she said.
The failed attempt to steal the Papa Johns delivery car occurred the next night. And 10 minutes after the boys fled that scene on Black Walnut Lane, they tried to steal another mans car in the 8400 block of Digital Drive, near where they robbed the first victim of his money and cell phone, reports show.
This last time, they choked, punched and kicked a 55-year-old man near his car in front of Autumn Park Apartments in an attempt to rob him of his car keys, the report shows.
They were unable to steal the mans car. And later that evening the CMPD K9 unit was successfully able to track and locate the juvenile suspects, police said. K9 Unit Sgt. Mike Graue said a police dog began tracking the suspects at 6770 Solectron Drive and followed their trail for more than 100 yards before locating them under a tractor-trailer truck backed into a loading dock.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police were unavailable to comment on the specifics of the investigation Tuesday. But Rob Tufano, a CMPD spokesman, said, excellent field work and communication between officers and detectives was key to the arrests.
The teens were charged with several counts of robbery and conspiracy.
One suspect is being held in a juvenile facility, police say, and the other was released to his parents.
Ritchie, who received several stitches in the back of his head after the attempted robbery, said he plans to take a week off before he returns to work at Papa Johns.
Ill try to be as cautious as I can be all the time when I go back, the veteran delivery man said. I never expected something like this to happen.