Lieutenant William J. Smith

Lieutenant William J. Smith

St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, Missouri

End of Watch Sunday, July 13, 1919

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William J. Smith

Lieutenant William Smith and Officer Thomas Ward were shot and killed after responding to the scene of a bank robbery at the Meramec Trust Company, at the intersection of Meramec Street and Virginia Avenue.

A passerby had alerted the officers to the robbery and several officers surrounded the building. As the robbers came out, an intense shootout erupted. The getaway driver fled the scene, leaving the three armed men alone.

A running gun battle took them to a house on Minnesota Street where the men took refuge in the basement. As officers attempted to surround the house, both Lieutenant Smith and Officer Ward were shot. The three men were eventually apprehended.

Officer Ward succumbed to his wounds the following day and Lieutenant Smith succumbed to his wounds one month later. Lieutenant Smith was promoted to Lieutenant one day after he was shot. At the time of the incident, he held the rank of sergeant.

The three suspects were convicted of murder. Two were sentenced to life and the other to 30 years. The one sentenced to 30 years was paroled in 1936. Three years later he was convicted of possession of counterfeit money and sentenced to five years in federal prison. One, 23, sentenced to life was paroled on June 27, 1946. The other, age 24, died in a prison hospital on April 12, 1942.

He had been employed with the St. Louis Police Department for 28 years and was survived by his wife and two children.


  • Age 54
  • Tour 28 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Incident Date Thursday, June 12, 1919
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Sentenced to life


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Thank you for your service and please know that your sacrifice will always be remembered. Rest in peace always.

Detective Cpl/3 Steven Rizzo
Delaware State Police (Retired)

July 13, 2020

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