Patrolman William Harvey Austin

Patrolman William Harvey Austin

Portsmouth Police Department, Virginia

End of Watch Wednesday, June 18, 1969

Add to My Heroes

William Harvey Austin

Patrolman Austin was shot and killed while attempting to apprehend an armed robbery suspect at High Street and Mount Vernon Avenue.

The suspect was attempting to rob a drive-in restaurant. The suspect was captured and sentenced to life in prison in December 1969.


  • Age Not available
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Sentenced to life


Most Recent Reflection

View all 16 Reflections

Patrolman Austin has always been remembered by my family members(most who have now passed on.) He was a Hero and made the ultimate sacrafice. His then pregnant wife and unborn child were not forgotten and prayers were and have been made for them. I was an infant in 1969 but I grew up hearing about this hero and his family.
I have never forgotten him and his selfless act -ions that fateful evening . Nor have I ever forgotten about his widow and child. I believe Patrolman Austin saved the lives of my great uncle John, my father(Steve), my aunt Shirley and patrons of the Dixie drive-in restaurant.
I was told that off duty Patrolman Austin had come in (the Dixie) that evening and sat at the counter . He reported not feeling well, specifically ,
he was having stomach pain. Therefore , he ordered a glass of milk. He noticed that a man came in and was talking to my Great uncle who was standing at the cash register. He saw that "Johnny" had opened the register and was quietly taking the money out and putting it in a bag. He also observed that the man had a gun.
Patrolman Austin attempted to get the gun from the robber. The two became engaged in an altercation. My father was behind the counter near my great uncle and rushed to get to the telephone . At the same time my aunt was on the outside of the counter , standing approximately 3ft from the robber , and also rushed to get to the telephone. My father was trying to get change (I believe from out of his pocket ) and my aunt picked a dime , that was part of a tip , on a tray. It was a pay phone and I think it cost a dime to make a call.
My aunt called the police and reported that there was a robbery in progress and that unarmed off duty Patrolman Austin was engaged in an altercation with an armed robber. Shots started going off while she and my father were on / at the phone and "dispatch" could hear the shots in the background. ( the news paper in error reported that my father made the call and spoke to "dispatch" ). Everything happened so fast. The armed robber ran. Two gentlemen who were patrons of the Dixie chased after him. They eventually lost him. One of the gentlemen was a tow truck operator/ business owner. My great uncle grabbed a towel and ran to Patrolman Austin as soon as he was down . My great uncle held the towel with pressure on Patrolman Austin's
Injury to his stomach. Although, the ambulance and police arrived rather quickly , my aunt said that time seemed to move slowly while anticipating help for Patrolman Austin. My great uncle was holding the "compress" on Patrolman Austin and then the EMTs started stabilizing and preparing Patrolman Austin for transport. Patrolman Austin said "Johnny please don't let me die." My great uncle told Patrolman Austin that he was not going to die. He tried to be encouraging and comforting.
EMS quickly transported Patrolman Austin to the hospital. My great uncle, both of my parents, my aunt, and my grandmother grieved the loss of Patrolman Austin.
They were grateful to this hero. They prayed for his wife and unborn child. They never forgot. And my aunt still has not forgotten that evening in 1969 , Patrolman Austin's Heroism and sacrafice , and his widow and child.
I will never forget this hero and his family.

September 17, 2021

September 17, 2021

Want even more control of your Reflection? Create a free ODMP account now for these benefits:

  • Quick access to your heroes
  • Reflections published quicker
  • Save a Reflection signature
  • View, edit or delete any Reflection you've left in the past

Create an account for more options, or use this form to leave a Reflection now.