Investigator James Burns

Investigator James Burns

Ohio Division of Liquor Control, Ohio

End of Watch Saturday, November 7, 1964

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James Burns

Investigator James Burns was shot and killed by a Xenia police officer who mistook him for an armed suspect.

Investigator Burns and an aide were conducting surveillance at a Xenia nightclub and followed a group of 16 people who had left the club, believing they were heading to a location serving bootlegged alcohol. The group walked to a nearby home on Main Street to attend a private party.

When Investigator Burns entered the home, he was told to leave by the homeowner. When he refused to leave, the residents blocked his exit as they called the local police, not knowing that he was an undercover agent. When the homeowner walked into a different room, Investigator Burns followed him. A struggle ensued between the two men, and Investigator Burns' service weapon fell to the floor. As the two struggled for it, the weapon discharged, fatally striking the homeowner in the head.

A Xenia officer was just arriving at the home when the shot was fired, and he entered the home with his gun drawn. He observed Investigator Burns holding his service weapon and ordered him to drop it. When he did not immediately drop it, the officer opened fire, striking him in the chest.

Investigator Burns had served with the Ohio Division of Liquor Control for 17 years. He was survived by his wife and three children.


  • Age 48
  • Tour 17 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire (Inadvertent)

alcohol violation

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NEVER FORGET! On behalf of the Ohio Attorneys General Bureau of Criminal Identification & Investigation, we honor the dedicated service and ultimate sacrifice of Investigator James Burns of the Ohio Division of Liquor Control, Ohio and the additional 77 American Peace Officers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice on this date in history.

Superintendent Joe Morbitzer
Ohio Attorney General, Bureau of Criminal Investigation

November 7, 2022

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