Correctional Officer William A. Miller

Correctional Officer William A. Miller

United States Department of Justice - Federal Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Government

End of Watch Friday, May 3, 1946

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William A. Miller

Correctional Officer William Miller and Correctional Officer Harold Stites were shot and killed during an attempted prison escape at Alcatraz Prison in California.

Several inmates were able to gain control of the prison's arsenal and took nine guards hostage, locking them in two separate cells. The prisoners demanded the prison keys, which were all turned over except for the one that allowed access to the outside. The guards were able to conceal that key in a toilet.

When the prisoners realized they were unable to escape, they began firing into the cells, wounding all of the officers. An assault team of other officers and United States Marines stormed the facility. During the ensuing battle, Officer Stites, a member of the rescue team, and six other officers were wounded.

Officer Miller was among the original nine hostages. He was repeatedly beaten as the prisoners requested the keys to exit the prison. He is credited with hiding the key and preventing the inmates from escaping. Officer Miller succumbed to his gunshot wounds the next day in the Marine Hospital. In all, 14 officers were wounded, and two were killed. Two of the inmates were also killed. Two others were later executed for the murders, and one other was sentenced to 99 years.

One of the two executed was serving time for the murder of Detective Lemuel Savage of the Amarillo Police Department, Texas. The suspect was convicted of a federal kidnapping charge related to Detective Savage's murder and was sent to Alcatraz Prison to serve the time.

Officer Miller had served with the United States Department of Justice - Federal Bureau of Prisons for five years and one year at Alcatraz Prison. He was survived by his wife, two children, and mother.


  • Age 43
  • Tour 5 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Location California
  • Incident Date Thursday, May 2, 1946
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Two shot and killed; Two executed

escape attempt, convicted felon, correctional Facility

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O God of Peace, so many of America’s Peace Officers who are on the front lines to protect us never make it back home to their families. We pray for these fallen law enforcement officers, Lord God, who gave their lives for us. We pray for the families of these heroes, who have to now endure life without their loved one. Lord God, society tries to move forward, but there is always bloodshed occurring. We approach Your throne of glory and grace to beg of You for peace. Lord God, bring peace to this land – the United States of America. We plead for Your divine intervention to quiet our hearts and unify our communities. Stop the violence that occurs amid our cities. We thank You for all America’s Peace Officers who have died protecting us, and ask that You send an everlasting peace so that America’s Peace Officers on the streets may be safe and return home to their loved ones at the end of their assigned shifts. In Christ Jesus, Your blessed Son, I pray. Amen.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons [children] of God.” [Matthew 5:9 ESV]

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” [Psalm 23:4 ESV]

Chaplain Steven R. Closs, NCCA, FCPO-USA
Ordained Christian Global Outreach Minister No. 36526
The Badge 183 Peacemakers Prayer Ministry
Merrimack, NH 03054

Captain Steven R. Closs (Ret.)
Nashua NH Police Department

July 22, 2023

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