Inspector William E. Payne

Inspector William E. Payne

Virginia Department of Prohibition Enforcement, Virginia

End of Watch Friday, February 21, 1919

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William E. Payne

Inspector William Payne was shot and killed at approximately 7:00 pm in the Rosslyn area of Alexandria County (modern-day Arlington County) while attempting to arrest a man for possessing whiskey.

He encountered the man in front of the Arlington Trust Company Bank, at the corner of North Moore Street and and modern-day Lee Highway. The man refused to get into the car to go to jail and a struggle ensued. The suspect produced a pistol and shot Inspector Payne in the eye. Another inspector attempted to drive Inspector Payne to Georgetown Hospital but he succumbed to his wound within several minutes of the shooting. The suspect was apprehended the following day.

At the time of his death, Inspector Payne had the highest number of arrests of any inspector in his agency. On April 1, 1918, he had been shot and wounded during a raid in Mecklenburg County.

Inspector Payne was survived by his wife and child and is buried at Columbia Gardens Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

The badge image on this memorial is Inspector Payne's actual badge.


  • Age 33
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; .32 caliber
  • Offender Apprehended

alcohol violation, arrest

Most Recent Reflection

View all 11 Reflections

I just found out today, thanks to my sister tracing our ancestry, that that this brave officer is my great-great uncle. I wish I had known sooner, as his son, William Jr. - my first cousin twice-removed, passed away in 1998. I hope to find some other relatives of Inspector Payne. My father and my uncle (both great nephews of the Inspector) were police officers (retied in 1979 and 1985), I was a police officer (retired in 2015), my son is currently a police officer, and two of my first cousins are or have been police officers. Maybe the family tradition started with Great Uncle William. I am thrilled to learn of new family but sad to know how many other family members had to live on without him. I am very proud to call this man my relative and am going to spend a lot of time learning about him and trying to track down his family. Rest in Peace Uncle and Brother.

Lieutenant (Retired) John Payne
St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office

May 30, 2019

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