Officer James Rayburn Grayson

Officer James Rayburn Grayson

North Wilkesboro Police Department, North Carolina

End of Watch Thursday, June 1, 1933

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James Rayburn Grayson

Officer James Grayson was shot and killed while investigating a suspicious person.

At approximately 8:55 p.m. on the night of May 31, 1933, Night Officer John Walker (who would later become the chief of police) and Night Officer Grayson were on duty and received a call that two men had brandished a pistol at Beeches Place on 10th Street (present location of Key City Grill). The officers responded, locating only one of the suspects.

Officer Walker followed the suspect down 10th Street toward Main Street, and Officer Grayson went up the alley between 10th and 9th streets, behind what was then Dick's Service Station, and then turned right and went toward Main Street.

When Officer Grayson reached Main Street, he located the suspect in front of the Deposit and Savings Bank (now SunTrust Bank). When Officer Grayson took hold of the suspect’s arm, five shots were fired. Officer Grayson was struck twice, once in the arm and once in the abdomen. The suspect fled on foot through an alley. Officer Grayson walked a few steps toward Officer Walker, who was near the Boone Trail marker at the corner of 10th and Main Street, telling him he had been shot.

Officer Grayson was taken by automobile to the Wilkes Hospital, where he died at 5 a.m. the next morning.

The suspect was arrested a short time later at C.O. Bumgarner’s store on Boone Trail at the top of Cotton Mill Hill by Deputy Sheriff Silas Reynolds. After a search of the area where the shooting had taken place, the murder weapon, a .32 caliber Smith & Wesson pistol, was found and taken in as evidence. The suspect was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to 30 years.

Officer Grayson was single and had served with the agency for 2 years.

In June, 2012 the West D Street (Business 421) bridge over the Reddies River was dedicated to the memory of Officer Grayson.


  • Age 22
  • Tour 2 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Sentenced to 30 years

Most Recent Reflection

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Rest in peace Officer Grayson.

Rabbi Lewis S. Davis

May 30, 2019

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