June 22 started off like any other Tuesday for Bunde Roebuck.
She looked after the family business, Caines Flowers in Barberton, helping clients and making flower arrangements.
Customers were walking in and out of downtown Second Street, and driver Mary Robinson went to make a delivery. Nearby, vendors were setting up stalls for the Barberton Farmers Market.
It was a normal morning in downtown Barberton.
At around 12:40 a.m., a man entered the store wearing a mask. Roebuck noticed this and thought the man was being cautious, still clinging to COVID protocols.
A few minutes later, she was on the cooler ground, brutally beaten by the man who told her more than once that she was going to die.
“He walked in and he pretended to be a customer,” Roebuck said in a recent interview at his shop.
She said she hadn’t thought much about the mask before the attack. He told her he wanted to buy some flowers and she showed him some Caines arrangements.
“He asked me about a particular bucket of flowers,” she said. “What are these whites [flowers]? Could you show me? ‘ “
When she bent down to reach for the daisies, he pulled out a knife and placed the point on her neck, which was still scarred and bruised on Friday where the gun had broken her skin.
“Do as I tell you or I’ll kill you,” he told her.
Roebuck said the man forced her into the back of the store and into the small cooler where the flowers are kept cool. He had brought a roll of black ribbon and wrapped his arms behind his back.
He removed her diamond ring from her hand and grabbed her earrings.
“[I] told her they were worthless, ”she said. “He got angry and hit me in the face.”
He wrapped the tape around her face and neck so she couldn’t scream.
Roebuck is a small woman; the man accused in his attack was tall, almost three times his weight.
“I thought I was going to die,” she said.
He continued to punch her in the face, forcing her to fall to the floor of the cooler. Roebuck said she thought she had gone in and out of consciousness, frantically thinking of a way out.
But she couldn’t.
He started to pull on his pants, dropping hers to their knees.
But then, Roebuck said, a miracle happened.
“By the grace of God my driver has returned,” she said.
Robinson entered through the back door of the business and made his way to the cooler door, slamming it open.
Surprised, the attacker fled.
Robinson was not expected at the store and later told Roebuck that she sensed something was wrong.
“She said she called twice and I didn’t answer,” Roebuck said.
Roebuck credits Robinson with saving her life, and the doctors who treated her suggest she is right.
She said a doctor told her “a few more hits to the head and I would be gone.”
Barberton’s attack traumatizes his family
Her lip was sprayed and she suffered fractures to her nose. On Wednesday, she said, the stitches in her nose were removed and she was scheduled to speak with a plastic surgeon.
Bruises still cover a large part of his face, testifying to the severity of the beatings.
Her niece, Ariel Fuller, also works in the store and said the incident caused her to acquire a gun for protection. She plans to take gun classes and a self-defense class offered by a local martial arts studio.
“I found myself not taking out the trash at the end of the day, afraid to go in,” Fuller said. “It makes you nervous and makes you want to be prepared.”
The trauma spread beyond her aunt to include family, she said.
“I had my son here and he said, ‘I will not go back,’” she said.
His children asked Mace to protect himself.
Business neighbors, community support
The shockwaves of the attack also spread throughout the community.
Barberton town councilor Thomas “Bebe” Heitic is the chef and general manager of Green Diamond, located next to Caines Flowers. He said Barberton rallied around Roebuck, shocked by the midday attack.
“When she leaves, we see her in the alley, we wave to her,” he said. “She’s one of the nicest people you can meet.”
Heitic said he intends to discuss the situation with Green Diamond employees.
“If at any point they feel uncomfortable, they don’t go to their cars unescorted,” he said.
Businesses in the city are stepping up to help where they can.
Among them, Magic Subs & Gyros and Scoops Ice Cream, which are hosting a fundraiser on July 17, with a portion of each purchase donated to Roebuck’s medical expenses.
“I have a lot of companies contacting me to do raffle baskets,” said Melanie West, owner of Magic Subs.
West said her husband or a relative now stays with her in the business at all times. Like other businesswomen in the city, she plans to take self-defense courses.
She said Roebuck has always been a caring person and the attack hasn’t changed that.
“She sent me flowers yesterday,” West said. “She’s the kind of person she is.”
A Facebook Fundraiser West set up for Roebuck’s medical bills raised nearly $ 5,000 from residents.
Fuller said the response from businesses and individuals has been overwhelming.
“Everyone is reaching out,” she said.
She said a representative from Mayor William Judge’s office called and the city is helping organize a Change for Change event on July 30 to raise money for Roebuck.
As Roebuck was telling his story on Friday, three people walked into the store within an hour to donate. Other people searched for a long time for her ring, which has not been found. Roebuck isn’t sure we’ll ever find him.
Jeff Smith, Roebuck’s partner for 21 years, said doctors told her she should have her lip reconstructed.
Akron man accused of attack
To date, law enforcement officials have told Roebuck that the man accused of the attack has shown no remorse.
Immediately after the assault on June 22, Roebuck’s alleged assailant went to a nearby chicken restaurant, where he bent down and sat down. But Barberton’s police saw him come in and arrested him.
Akron’s Timothy Williams is charged with kidnapping, aggravated theft, attempted rape and parole violation in the attack. He has previous convictions, including a rape for which he served four years under a plea deal. He is currently in Summit County Jail, on bail set at $ 5 million.
Roebuck said she was aware of his past offenses and didn’t know why he was released from prison and able to attack her.
“He should never have been left out,” Roebuck said. “I’m just happy to be alive.”
She said the only bright spot was the support she received from family, friends and people she didn’t even know.
“The light that shines in all of this is the people,” she said.
But no support will make the memories disappear.
“It goes through my head over and over again,” she said.
Leave a message to Alan Ashworth at 330-996-3859 or email him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @newsalanbeaconj.