MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A convenience store employee is behind bars after police say he killed a man trying to burglarize the store. 52-year-old Robert Buie is charged with second degree murder.
Police say it happened Sunday evening when Christopher Nettles tried to steal $100 worth of items from Scootie’s on Walker Avenue near the University of Memphis. U of M Sophomore Seth Wyne says he and his friends walked up as first responders arrived.
“It was about six paramedics rushing in and rushing out to get more stuff and then obviously, the gurney being brought in,” Wyne said.
Police say the store owner’s son locked the doors when Nettles tried to flee with the merchandise. They also say Buie pulled a gun and told Nettles to get on the floor.
Investigators say Nettles started walking toward Buie and refused to stop when Buie asked him to. They say Buie then fired a shot through Nettles’ chest when he got to within six feet of him. Nettles was unarmed.
“If the man was unarmed I don’t see a need of taking life,” Wyne said, “Why shoot him straight blank in the chest?”
According to court documents, Buie told police he’s the store’s security guard but didn’t tell officers if he felt his life was threatened. Either way, investigators say Buie never should have had a gun because he’s a convicted felon who pled guilty to burglary in 2001.
“I mean, killing someone for stealing $100 out of the cash register or stealing food is completely unnecessary,” Wyne said.
A nearby business owner, who doesn’t want to be identified, told WREG he’s known Buie for years and believes he has a mental illness. We tried to talk to Scootie’s owner about the incident Monday afternoon but the doors were locked and the store appeared to be closed.
Buie is being held on $100,000 bond. He has a court hearing Tuesday.