Bio & Incident Details
Tour: 20 years
Badge # 6381
Cause: 9/11 related illness
Incident Date: 9/11/2001
Weapon: Aircraft; Passenger jet
Offender: 19 suicide attackers
Detective Robert Williamson died of pancreatic and lung cancer he developed as a result of his work at Ground Zero, the site of the World Trade Center terrorist attack of 9/11.
Detective Williamson responded to the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 shortly after the two towers had collapsed. While he was working at the site, World Trade Center building 7 collapsed, but Detective Williamson was able to escape unharmed.
During the following months, Detective Williamson worked hundreds of hours at the Ground Zero site, where he inhaled toxic chemicals and materials. The inhalation of those chemicals led to the development of cancer. During the subsequent years, his pancreas, spleen, gall bladder, most of his stomach, and parts of his intestines and lungs, became cancerous. On May 13, 2007, Detective Williamson died as a result of his work at Ground Zero.
Detective Williamson had served with the New York City Police Department for 20 years, and was assigned to the Street Crime Unit. He is survived by his wife and three children.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, seventy-two officers from a total of eight local, state, and federal agencies were killed when terrorist hijackers working for the al Qaeda terrorist network, headed by Osama bin Laden, crashed two of four hijacked planes into the World Trade Center towers in New York City. After the impact of the first plane, putting the safety of others before their own, law enforcement officers along with fire and EMS personnel, rushed to the burning Twin Towers of the World Trade Center to aid the victims and lead them to safety. Due to their quick actions, it is estimated that over 25,000 people were saved.
As the evacuation continued, the first tower unexpectedly collapsed due as a result of the intense fire caused by the impact. The second tower collapsed a short time later. 71 law enforcement officers, 343 members of the New York City Fire Department and over 2,800 civilians were killed at the World Trade Center site.
A third hijacked plane crashed into a field in rural Pennsylvania when the passengers attempted to re-take control of the plane. One law enforcement officer, who was a passenger on the plane, was killed in that crash.
The fourth hijacked plane was crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, killing almost 200 military and civilian personnel. No law enforcement officers were killed at the Pentagon.
The terrorist attacks resulted in the declaration of war against the Taliban regime, the illegal rulers of Afghanistan, and the al Qaeda terrorist network which also was based in Afghanistan.
On September 9, 2005, all of the public safety officers killed on September 11, 2001, were posthumously awarded the 9/11 Heroes Medal of Valor by President George W. Bush.
The contamination in the air at the World Trade Center site caused many rescue personnel to become extremely ill, and eventually led to the death of several rescue workers.
On May 1, 2011 members of the United States military conducted a raid on a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan where Osama bin Laden was hiding. During the raid, they shot and killed bin Laden.
Please click here to visit the memorials of all of the law enforcement officers killed in this terrorist attack.