Police Officer William T. Birch

Police Officer William T. Birch

Fort Lee Police Department, New Jersey

End of Watch Sunday, September 4, 1966

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William T. Birch

Police Officer Billy Birch was shot and killed when he responded to a holdup alarm at the Riviera Hotel on Route 4 West at 12:45 am.

As he arrived on the scene, one of the two subjects exited the hotel lobby and shot Officer Birch three times, killing him. The suspect then abducted a couple at gunpoint and forced them to drive away. The suspect was arrested a short time later after a shootout with officers. The man he abducted also assisted with the arrest as he was armed at the time he was abducted.

The second suspect was also apprehended after a shootout with officers. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Officer Birch's killer, who was on parole in Texas on a conviction of assault with intent to murder, was sentenced to death but had the sentence commuted to life in prison in 1972 when the death penalty was abolished. The man was paroled in 1982. In January 2005, at the age of 79, the suspect was arrested in Massachusetts for attempting to sell a handgun to an informant while bragging that he killed a police officer in New Jersey and got away with serving only 15 years. He was returned to prison in New Jersey for violating his parole. He died in prison 2 years later.

Officer Birch had served with the Fort Lee Police Department for just over two years. He was survived by his wife and three daughters.


  • Age 26
  • Tour 2 years, 6 months
  • Badge 134

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; .38 caliber
  • Offender Died in prison

parolee, robbery

Most Recent Reflection

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I was a sophomore at Fort Lee High it was such a sadness all over town.

Denise DeFelice

August 11, 2023

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