Teacher robbed at knifepoint at school, locked in gym closet, police say

A man was arrested after police said he robbed a woman at knifepoint and locked her in a closet as she showed up to work at a Nashville school. (Source: WSMV)
Published: Aug. 31, 2023 at 12:55 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV/Gray News) – A teacher at a Nashville school was robbed at knifepoint and locked in a gym closet when she showed up to work this week, police said.

According to an arrest report from the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, officers were dispatched to Cameron College Prep just after 7 a.m. Tuesday.

The woman told officers that she was approached by an unknown man, later identified as 65-year-old William Joe Buford, as she arrived at work and was forced inside the school gymnasium, the report states.

Buford was armed with a large butcher knife, police said. He demanded the teacher give him money, but when she told him she did not have any, he took her car keys, cellphone, earbuds and watch.

The woman said that Buford told her, “I’m not going to hurt you, but if you were a white (expletive), I’d kill you.”

He locked the teacher inside a closet in the school gymnasium before leaving, according to the report. She banged on the closet door until students heard her calls for help and let her out.

The school was placed on lockdown once the teacher was discovered, a school spokesperson said in a statement. School leaders followed their normal safety plan.

“It’s really scary that they don’t have much security,” parent Carla Avery said. “For the students, and the teachers, and the staff in the front office because someone can just walk in.”

Buford left the campus in the woman’s car and drove it to an underground parking garage, ditched the car, and boarded a bus with the teacher’s phone and watch, police said.

MNPD officers were able to locate Buford by tracking the woman’s phone and found him on Murfreesboro Pike underneath Interstate 24, police said.

Police said Buford ran away when he saw the officers approaching, crossing over all lanes of I-24 and sprinting into the tree line on the other side. He was apprehended without further incident and positively identified by the woman, police said.

While being interviewed, Buford admitted to robbing the woman and taking her car, according to police. He was booked Tuesday afternoon on a $100,000 bond and charged with aggravated robbery.