Patrolman William J. Otis

Patrolman William J. Otis

Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, Pennsylvania

End of Watch Wednesday, March 3, 1971

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William J. Otis

Patrolman William Otis was killed by a gunshot while he and his partner responded to a burglary in progress call at a home on Centre Avenue in Oakland. The owner of the residence, thinking Officer Otis was the burglar, shot him as he entered a hallway.

Patrolman Otis was taken to University of Pittsburgh Presbyterian Hospital where he died within the hour.

Patrolman Otis had served with the Pittsburgh Police Department for 13 months and was a member of the Army Reserves where he served in the Vietnam War. He was survived by his wife, two year old son, and parents, and sister.


  • Age 23
  • Tour 1 year, 1 month
  • Badge Not available
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; .32 caliber
  • Offender No charges filed

burglary in progress, fatal funnel

Most Recent Reflection

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I worked with Bill at the American Bridge Plant before joining the Bureau of Police. I worked on the Electrical Crew and bill worked on one of the machines along with his partner Jack Long. I was the first to be called by the police dept. and Bill and Jack were hired later. I was assigned to the number six station n Squirrel Hill, walked a beat and was later assigned to a vehicle which patrolled the Hazelwood Area. I guess it was approximately eight months later that Bill was hired and was also sent to the Squirrel Hill Station. Since it was customary to assign new men on a beat Bill was assigned the beat in Hazelwood. While patrolling on the night turn shift I would stop by to see if Bill needed anything and would at times take him to the Fire house on Flowers Ave. -We would sit and talk about things happening in our lives and Bill would say that he was anxious to be assigned to a vehicle so he would be able to be with his wife and new born. I tried to calm him by saying that his time would come and shortly there after when the Hazelwood cars were transferred to the Oakland Station at Semple and Louisa Streets, Bill was assigned to Veh. 402 and surprisingly his partner would be Jack Long who had also been hired as a Police Officer.
Bill was so excited that he would be going onto the daylight shift and was actually late for roll call on that first day. I was on the daylight shift also working Hazelwood and Bill and Jack were working the Oakland Area. Snow began to fall that morning and began to pile up quickly making the city streets very slippery. Traffic was tied up every where and car 402 received the call on Centre Ave. where there was reported to be a burglary in progress. Radio asked if anyone could give them a back up but nobody responded since everyone was tied up on traffic calls. Myself and my partner Larry Casto told radio that we would start from Hazelwood but it was slow since the streets were tied up.
Approximately 15 minutes into the call Jack Long called in an emergency and said his partner had been shot. By the time we arrived on the scene the Paramedics were transferring Bill to the hospital where he later passed away. I will never forget that tragic day and the date in March makes me sad because I think of Bill.

Retired Pgh. Police - Eddie Wirkowski

March 4, 2020

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