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Deputy Sheriff William Thomas Land | Durham County Sheriff's Office, North Carolina Durham County Sheriff's Office, North Carolina

Deputy Sheriff

William Thomas Land

Durham County Sheriff's Office, North Carolina

End of Watch: Tuesday, October 5, 1971

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 24

Tour: 1 month

Badge # Not available

Cause: Gunfire

Weapon: Gun; Unknown type

Offender: sentenced to 115 years

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Deputy William Land was shot and killed while responding to a silent alarm at a local bank. As he and another deputy ran up to the bank a lone gunman shot him through the glass front door. After the gunman and the other deputy exchanged several gun shots the gunman came to the door holding the bank manager hostage. The gunman ordered the deputy to handcuff himself to a porch rail and then forced the bank manager to drive him north on N.C. 54 in the bank manager's vehicle. After being chased a few miles by several state troopers the gunman ordered the bank manager to stop. The gunman refused to release his hostage and surrender when ordered to do so by the troopers. At this point the bank manager grabbed the gunman's gun and drove into a nearby ditch. Several troopers forced their way into the vehicle; subdued the gunman; and took him into custody.

The suspect was convicted of first degree murder, bank robbery, assault, and kidnaping. He was sentenced to 115 years in prison. He was released from prison on August 9, 1993.

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I had attended high school with Tommy where we drove school buses. The day he was killed I was in rookie school training to be a police officer. His death changed forever the way officers responded to bank alarms - from routine annoyance to actual robberies. My law enforcement career spanned another 30 years until my retirement in 2001 and hardly a day passed by when I wasn't reminded of Tommy Land. The other deputy who was with Tommy on that day later came to work for my agency and is now too deceased. While tragic was Tommy's death, I am confident that other lives have been spared by the experience of these two fine officers.

Deputy Chief Kent Fletcher (retired)
Durham NC Police Department
January 22, 2014


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