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 Sheriff William Land was shot and killed while responding to a silent alarm at a local bank at 12:54 pm.

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 gunshots, the gunman came to the door holding the bank manager hostage. The gunman ordered the deputy to handcuff himself to a porch rail and 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 kidnapping. He was sentenced to 115 years in prison. He was released from prison on August 9, 1993.

Deputy Land was a United States Navy veteran and had served with the Durham County Sheriff's Office for a month. He was survived by his parents.


  • Age 24
  • Tour 1 month
  • Badge Not available
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

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

robbery, ambush

Most Recent Reflection

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I'm sorry for all of the life you were cheated from, for having chosen to serve your community and our profession. I am however proud and honored to be included in the profession you helped shape by your fidelity to duty, no matter the brief period of time. Your service is an illustration that quality always trumps quantity. You and your life are remembered today...and you and your life are appreciated.

NC Officer

October 5, 2023

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