Patrolman Norvell Ray

Patrolman Norvell Ray

East St. Louis Police Department, Illinois

End of Watch Saturday, January 25, 1958

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Norvell Ray

Patrolman Norvell Ray was shot and killed when he responded to a home where a man had just shot a woman at 1423 Russell Avenue in East St Louis.

As Patrolman Ray stepped onto the home's porch, he was shot in the head. He attempted to return to his patrol car but collapsed. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The 71-year-old suspect was taken into custody by other responding officers. He was convicted of Patrolman Ray's murder, sentenced to life in prison, and denied clemency in 1962.

Patrolman Ray was survived by his wife and two daughters.


  • Age 32
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge 79

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; .38 caliber
  • Offender Sentenced to life


Most Recent Reflection

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In 1958 i was a child living in the south end of East st louis Il. I lived at 1114 s. 14th street, and the block on 14th street i lived on was bordered by Russell ave to the north end of the block, and Gay Ave to the southend of my block. on January 25, 1958, i was playing out side in my yard, doing what kids did back then. the neighborhood. was a very quite sleepy community, because there were no thru streets in my hood to other parts of East St. Louis, and the only traffic that came thru were the cars of people who lived within the immediate area, or now and then a visitor to the community.
That Saturday morning as i played, i can remember seeing and speaking to Mr. Bill as he came down thru the alley that ran behind the houses on Russell, and then on across 14th st to the next block of Russell. There was nothing unusual about seeing Mr Bill come that way, because i had seen him often come thru the alley to go to his girls friends house who lived in the 13Th hundred block of Russell ave. Mr Bill lived in the 14th hundred block of Russell, and the alley was a short cut he used to go there many times. As the day passed, and i had gone inside to watch TV cowboys that were my favorites on Saturdays back then. That afternoon when the cowboy shows had gone off, and i went back outside to play, all of a sudden i heard a gun shot, but i did not recognize it as a gun shot because i had never heard a gunshot before in my neighborhood. so, i quickly dis missed it and kept on playing. about fifteen minutes or more, police cars with sirens blazing came from three different directions and set up a blockade at the corner of my street on 14th and Russell ave. i immediately ran to the corner of Russell and 14th street and was turned back by the police. i could see from the corner before they made me go back, that many many police cars were down in the middle of the block of 14th and Russell, and many policemen with guns drawn were in the street. From what i could see, the police were almost directly in front of my friends house, Ronald, who lived on 14th and Russell, so i back away from the corner and went into the alley i used everyday to go Lucas grade school, and which also ran directly behind Ronalds backyard. as i came down the alley and into Ronalds backyard, i decided to go down beside his house to the front yard. i had no idea that my actions that day and what i saw in the street of Russell would live with me the rest of my life.
Mr. Bill lived directly across the street from my friends house, and as i came to the front of Ronald's house, i saw police surrounding Mr Bill's house. i had no idea what was going on. Then as i stood looking, my amazement quickly changed to that of horror. Mr. Bill was being dragged from his home, and cops were beating him nonstop, blood was running from his head in several different places and i saw a cop hit him so hard that Mr Bill was knocked from the front porch into the street . i could not understand why they were beating him so badly because he was an old man. i did not know how old he was, but i knew he was very old, and i always thought of him as a grandfatherly type because i knew he has a son that was a grown man .
As Mr Bill fell into the street, another set of cops continued to beat him. i was terrorized and in shock by what i had just seen. i could no longer stand there and watch, so i backed up and went back to my house in a state 0f trauma.

it was not until later that day i was told that Mr. Bill had shot his girlfriend, and when the police came to his house, he killed the police Norvell Ray, who was a young rookie cop, who had not even spoken one word before Mr. Bill shot him as he stepped on the front porch.
i had never seen anything like that before because i was only eleven years old, and my neighborhood in 1958 was very peaceful and quite, where nothing even close to this occurance ever happened. i have never forgotten seeing that, and for days, weeks and months after witnessing it, i had a very bad time , i was so scared and could not sleep at night, and even worse, i never talked about it or told anyone what i had seen that day. i kept it all inside, and lived with it all my life i am now 75 years old, and when i came across this article, i relived that whole day in my mind. i had felt so sorry for Mr. Bill, and after the facts came out about what he had done, i felt equal sorrow for the young policeman, Norvell Ray, who was killed that day. it was a very bad day .
writing and telling what i had seen is a kind of therapy for me. but the horror of it all has been a lifetime of pain i have lived with.
parents, talk to your children and always let them know they can tell you whats on their minds. i did not have that, and it has been a heavy load to bare .

just a kid who lived in the neighborhood

June 14, 2022

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