Officer Mack Wesley Cantrell

Officer Mack Wesley Cantrell

District of Columbia Protective Services Police Department, District of Columbia

End of Watch Monday, July 4, 1977

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Mack Wesley Cantrell

Officer Mack Cantrell succumbed to gunshot wounds sustained on March 9th, 1977, when a Muslim terrorist group took over the District Building and two other nearby buildings.

During the attack, the terrorists murdered a local journalist and shot a member of the District of Columbia councilman. Officer Cantrell was struck in the head with buckshot during the incident before the terrorists took dozens of hostages. The hostages were eventually freed following extended negotiations involving the ambassadors of Pakistan, Iran, and Egypt.

All the hostage-takers were taken into custody and subsequently convicted of numerous crimes. The leader of the group was sentenced to 21 to 120 years in prison. He died at Federal Correctional Institute Butner on November 13th, 2003.

Officer Cantrell recovered enough from his wounds to return to duty on June 19th, 1977 but suffered a fatal heart attack on his first day back. He was taken to a local hospital where he passed away on July 4th, 1977.

Officer Cantrell was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and had served with the District of Columbia Protective Services Police Department for six years. He was survived by his wife, four daughters, and one granddaughter.


  • Age 51
  • Tour 6 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Incident Date Wednesday, March 9, 1977
  • Weapon Shotgun
  • Offender Sentenced to 120 years

barricade, terrorism

Most Recent Reflection

View all 9 Reflections

Officer Cantrell, thank you for all of your efforts, especially your attempt to return to duty. Many would have walked away, and I do NOT judge that, who could blame anyone for just saying, "ENOUGH". But you went back and I admire that to no end. It's sad and heartbreaking that you didn't make it past your first day back, but deep down, somewhere, your deep subconscious said, "ENOUGH". You almost beat it.

God Bless you, Brother and may you eternally Rest in Peace.

Ptl. Jim Leahy, Jr.
Harvard University Police Department

July 4, 2022

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