Detective William H. Ballard

Detective William H. Ballard

Wichita Police Department, Kansas

End of Watch Tuesday, July 20, 1920

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William H. Ballard

Detective William Ballard was shot and killed as he and two other officers searched two suspects in a small shack just west of First Street and Wichita Street.

They had searched the first man but apparently missed a .32 caliber handgun he was concealing. As they began to search the second subject the first subject opened fire, killing Detective Ballard and wounding one of the other officers. Both men fled from the shack but were apprehended. One later committed suicide in prison and the other attempted suicide.

Detective Ballard had served with the Wichita Police Department for five years and had previously served as a deputy marshal with the Wichita City Court for four years. He was survived by his wife, four sons, three daughters, and five siblings.


  • Age 52
  • Tour 9 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; .32 caliber
  • Offender Committed suicide

Most Recent Reflection

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I was reading this book called “Her Name, Titanic” about Dr. Robert D. Ballard’s 1985 discovery of the famous 1912 shipwreck site, and it stated in chapter 11 that Ballard’s grandfather was a lawman of Wichita, Kansas, who was killed along with two deputies in a shootout with cocaine peddlers around the turn of the century. After doing some research, I know that William Henry Ballard is the famous ocean explorer Robert D. Ballard’s grandfather, and if you look at photographs of the two men you can clearly see the family resemblance.

Brian Joseph Bommarito
Amateur historian, genealogist

June 3, 2019

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