Correctional Officer Harold P. Stites

Correctional Officer Harold P. Stites

United States Department of Justice - Federal Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Government

End of Watch Thursday, May 2, 1946

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Harold P. Stites

Correctional Officer Harold Officer Stites and Correctional Officer William A. Miller were shot and killed during an attempted prison escape at the Alcatraz Prison in California. Several inmates were able to gain control of the prison's arsenal and took nine guards hostage, locking them in two separate cells. The prisoners demanded the prison keys, which were all turned over except for the one that allowed access to the outside. The guards were able to conceal that key in a toilet.

When the prisoners realized they were unable to escape, they began firing into the cells, wounding all of the officers. An assault team of other officers and United States Marines stormed the facility. During the ensuing battle, Officer Stites, a member of the rescue team, and six other officers were wounded.

Officer Miller was among the original nine hostages and also died of his wounds. In all, 14 officers were wounded, and two were killed. Of the five leaders and organizers of the attempted escape, two were shot and killed. Two others were later executed for the murders, and one was sentenced to 99 years.

One of the two executed was serving time for the murder of Detective Lemuel Savage of the Amarillo Police Department, Texas. The suspect was convicted of a federal kidnapping charge related to Detective Savage's murder and was sent to Alcatraz Prison to serve the time. The inmate sentenced to 99 years was 25-years-old, the youngest inmate in Alcatraz. He was paroled in 1973, however his parole was revoked twice for parole violations and he was sent back to prison. He died on October 3, 1988, at a medical center for federal inmates in Springfield, Missouri, from AIDS related complications.

In 1936, Correctional Officer Stites was responsible for the prevention of another escape attempt from Alcatraz.

Correctional Officer Stites was a United States Army WWI veteran and had served with the United States Department of Justice - Federal Bureau of Prisons for over 23 years. He was survived by his wife, three sons, and a daughter.

He is buried at the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, San Mateo County, California.


  • Age 48
  • Tour 23 years
  • Badge Not available
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Location California
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Two shot and killed; Two executed

correctional Facility, escape attempt

Most Recent Reflection

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Officer Stites,
On today, the 75th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for our Country. And to your Family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy. There is no tougher job in Law Enforcement than that of a Corrections Officer.


United States Border Patrol

May 2, 2021

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