BBQ bandit dropped by veteran cop

Derrick Harris, 27, allegedly tried to rob a Buddy’s BBQ restaurant in West Knoxville on March 1, 2021, but was stopped by the swift response of Knoxville Police Department officers.

A Knoxville Police Department officer intervened in the robbery of a popular West Knoxville barbecue joint Monday, leading to the suspect’s prompt arrest, authorities said.

A 27-year-old man named Derrick Deion Harris of Knoxville went into the Buddy’s BBQ, 8402 Kingston Pike, as the evening rush hour was winding down and held an employee at gunpoint, police said.

Dispatchers at the E-911 call center got a phone call about the gunman at 6:55 p.m.  and dispatched KPD officers to investigate.

“The suspect was observed still inside the business standing behind the counter at the cash register,” said KPD spokesman Scott Erland. “The first officer who arrived on scene quickly entered the business and confronted the suspect, who was subsequently taken into custody without further incident.”

No one was injured.

Police didn’t say how many employees or customers were at the business when the robbery occurred. They also didn’t disclose who made the report to E-911 dispatchers.

The handgun seized from Harris was loaded, Erland said, and police also confiscated cash and a small amount of marijuana.

The patrolman who first entered the restaurant and confronted Harris was identified as Officer Tim Walker, who has been with KPD since 2005, according to Erland. 

Harris was charged with aggravated robbery, possession of a handgun while under the influence and misdemeanor drug possession.

After police learned that Harris had been previously convicted of a felony, they added an additional charge of being a felon in possession of a weapon, Erland said.

Erland didn’t say what crime Harris had been previously convicted of.

J.J. Stambaugh may be contacted at

Published March 3, 2021

KPD Officer Tim Walker
KPD Officer Tim Walker