NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A 65-year-old man was arrested after reportedly threatening a teacher at Cameron Middle School with a large butcher knife, robbing her and then locking her in a closet.
Officers with the Metro Nashville Police Department were dispatched to the school on First Avenue around 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 29 after receiving reports of an armed robbery, according to an arrest affidavit.
The victim told police she had been approached by Willie Joe Buford in the parking lot after she arrived at work. While armed with a “large butcher knife,” Buford allegedly forced the woman into the school gym and demanded she give him money.
Authorities said the teacher did not have any money on her, so Buford took her car keys, iPhone, AirPods and Apple watch. He then told her, “I’m not going to hurt you but if you were a white (expletive) I’d kill you,” according to the affidavit.
After Buford reportedly robbed the woman, police said he made her get into a closet in the gym that locked after the door closed. The teacher banged on the door until some students came and freed her.
Meanwhile, the affidavit said Buford stole the woman’s Honda Accord, drove it downtown and parked in an underground parking garage at 401 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. He then took her phone and watch and boarded a bus.
Investigators were able to track Buford to a spot on Murfreesboro Pike underneath Interstate 24 using the Find My iPhone app, according to the affidavit. After he saw officers approaching, Buford reportedly ran across I-24 and into a tree line on the opposite side of the interstate.
Police said Buford was taken into custody without incident and later admitted to taking the teacher’s car and other items. The teacher was also able to positively identify Buford as the suspect, authorities reported.
Buford was booked into jail on one count of aggravated robbery with a weapon. As of Wednesday, Aug. 30, he was still behind bars with a $100,000 bond. He is set to appear in court for a hearing on Thursday, Aug. 31.
In an emailed statement, school officials said students had not yet arrived on campus when the teacher was robbed Tuesday morning. The school “immediately implemented its emergency protocols” and went on lockdown after the incident was reported, the statement said.
“The safety of our staff and students is always our top priority, and we are taking appropriate measures to ensure our school environments are a place where students and staff feel safe and secure,” the statement continued.