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Police Officer William T. Birch | Fort Lee Police Department, New Jersey Fort Lee Police Department, New Jersey

Police Officer

William T. Birch

Fort Lee Police Department, New Jersey

End of Watch: Sunday, September 4, 1966

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 26

Tour: 2 years, 6 months

Badge # 134

Cause: Gunfire

Incident Date: 9/4/1966

Weapon: Handgun; .38 caliber

Suspect: Died in prison

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Officer Birch was shot and killed while when he responded to a holdup alarm at a hotel on Route 4 West at 0045 hours. As he arrived on scene one of the two suspects exited the hotel lobby and shot him three times, killing him. The suspect then abducted a couple at gunpoint and forced them to drive away. The suspect was arrested a short time later after a shootout with officers. The man he abducted also assisted with the arrest as he was armed at the time the suspect abducted them.

The second suspect was also apprehended after a shootout with officers. The suspect who shot Officer Birch was sentenced to death but had the sentenced commuted to life in prison in 1972 when the death penalty was abolished. The man was paroled in 1982.

In January 2005, at the age of 79, the suspect was arrested in Massachusetts for attempting to sell a handgun to informant while bragging that he killed a police officer in New Jersey and got away with serving only 15 years. He was returned to prison in New Jersey for violating his parole. He died in prison 2 years later.

Officer Birch had been with the agency for just over two years and was survived by his wife and three daughters.

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It's odd to think that I feel such a connection to a person I have never met. Since the day I was born you have stayed alive through the people that love and respect you and from that, I know you would have been the best grandpa around. You had such a short life, but you have lived for so much longer, affecting and inspiring so many people with your act of heroism. You have played an active role in the lives of all of your 21 grandchildren including mine and will forever be our hero. We love you and wish you could be with us here today. RIP fly high gpa Birch.

Grace Latorre
Grand-Daughter
September 4, 2014

 

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