Patrolman James Thomas Brown

Patrolman James Thomas Brown

North Carolina Highway Patrol, North Carolina

End of Watch Tuesday, November 5, 1957

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James Thomas Brown

Patrolman James Brown was shot and killed while attempting to stop the subject who had just murdered Patrolman Wister Reese near Rockingham, North Carolina.

Patrolman Brown was patrolling Route 1 when he spotted the suspect's vehicle about seven miles north of Sanford. He attempted to stop the vehicle but the driver fled leading him on a pursuit. Patrolman Brown notified dispatchers that the vehicle stopped but then moments later radioed again that he had been shot. The vehicle, later found to be stolen, was being driven by a New York state mental hospital escapee. The escapee was en route to Mississippi to attempt to break his brother out of death row.

Three weeks later the suspect was captured in Bakersfield, California. Since his escape one month earlier, it was discovered that he had been involved in numerous burglaries in Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and North Carolina.

He was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to two life sentences on March 19th, 1958. The suspect, who was North Carolina's oldest and longest-serving inmate, died in prison July 21st, 2012. He was 90 years old.

Patrolman Brown was a U.S. Army veteran of WWII.

In 2005 the North Carolina Department of Transportation named a bridge on US Highway 1 in Lee County in memory of Patrolman Brown.


  • Age 32
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Died in prison

EDP, escapee, murder suspect, vehicle pursuit

Most Recent Reflection

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I am the daughter of Trooper Edward G Shomaker, who was stationed in Moore County the time of the shootings. My late father knew these troopers, Reese and Brown and thought highly of them. I was only a very little girl but I remember it vividly!
My dad was later transferred to Troop E in Rowan County but always missed Moore Co. of NC. He began retirement after 32 yrs, a proud Trooper. The Honor Guard at his funeral was beautiful and he was wearing his uniform. He would have been proud. I miss him mightily.
I still get emotional when I see a Highway Patrol car in NC. I honor the work as I honor the integrity my daddy had.
He was Trooper of the year in 1958; I believe.
I honor the sacrifice of ALL Troopers killed in action and those who continue to strive in keeping our roads and drivers safe. Thank you!
Katheryn - Raleigh

Daughter of NC Trooper
Daughter of NC Trooper

November 12, 2017

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