Deputy Sheriff William Thomas Land

Deputy Sheriff William Thomas Land

Durham County Sheriff's Office, North Carolina

End of Watch Tuesday, October 5, 1971

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William Thomas Land

Deputy William Land was shot and killed while responding to a silent alarm at a local bank. As he and another deputy ran up to the bank a lone gunman shot him through the glass front door. After the gunman and the other deputy exchanged several gun shots the gunman came to the door holding the bank manager hostage. The gunman ordered the deputy to handcuff himself to a porch rail and then forced the bank manager to drive him north on N.C. 54 in the bank manager's vehicle. After being chased a few miles by several state troopers the gunman ordered the bank manager to stop. The gunman refused to release his hostage and surrender when ordered to do so by the troopers. At this point the bank manager grabbed the gunman's gun and drove into a nearby ditch. Several troopers forced their way into the vehicle; subdued the gunman; and took him into custody.

The suspect was convicted of first degree murder, bank robbery, assault, and kidnaping. He was sentenced to 115 years in prison. He was released from prison on August 9, 1993.


  • Age 24
  • Tour 1 month
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender sentenced to 115 years

Most Recent Reflection

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Tommy -- Your sacrifice is well-remembered -- as is your treasured friendship, and that of your fine family as well. You are greatly missed by all who had the privilege of knowing you, and your slaying at the hands of an uncaring felon was indeed a tragedy that will not be forgotten. Requiescat in Pace .

R.W. Miller, Assoc. Commissioner (Ret)
U.S. Customs Service, Dept. of the Treasury

May 15, 2021

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