Detective James L. Wells

Detective James L. Wells

Seattle Police Department, Washington

End of Watch Sunday, November 28, 1897

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James L. Wells

Detective Wells was shot and killed by a suspect he was transporting in a horse-drawn wagon to police headquarters. When they arrived at headquarters the suspect produced a handgun and shot Detective Wells. Detective Wells was able to return fire, striking the suspect. The suspect was captured a short time later.

The suspect was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 12 years hard labor. On July 26, 1908, he shot and killed a man in Ferry County. On May 28, 1909, he was apprehended in Quesne, British Columbia, after a chase through Victoria. He was returned to Washington, convicted of second degree murder, and sent back to prison.

Detective Wells had served with the Seattle Police Department for 5 years and had previously served with the King County Sheriff's Department for 2 years.


  • Age 38
  • Tour 7 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun
  • Offender Sentenced to 12 years

Most Recent Reflection

View all 7 Reflections

Seattle PD tracked me down for Detective Wells citation. The Newark, CA police department suited up in full dress and presented his award to me. It was an eye watering ceremony even over 100 years later. My younger sister has his badge still. Thank you to all the officers that are no longer with us because they gave everything for our safety.

David Ransom
Related to Wells family via Brown family, my grandmother.

October 18, 2021

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