Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 2 years, 7 months, 19 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 2nd District - Wabash
District of Incident (Present Day): 003 - Grand Crossing
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Friendly
Age at Time of Death: 25
Date of Birth: 12 May 1941
Date of Appointment: 17 Jun 1964
Date of Incident: 06 Feb 1967
End of Watch: 06 Feb 1967
Date of Interment: 10 Feb 1967
Cemetery: Lincoln Cemetery - Chicago, Illinois
Grave Location: Unknown
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-4
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 4
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 3, Line 14
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 27-E: 10
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman William Y. Bell, Star #3565, aged 25 years, was a 2 year, 7 month, 19 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 2nd District – Wabash.
On February 6, 1967, Officer Bell, while off duty and in plain clothes, assisted several police officers involved in the pursuit of a robbery suspect. Officer Bell had parked his car with the motor running and had gone inside a laundry located at 1653 East 71st Street. He approached Patrolmen Elkstrom and Walker and identified himself as an off duty police officer. Moments earlier, the manager from a grocery store had alerted Officer Elkstrom of a robbery as he was writing parking tickets. The three officers began to chase William Baird, age 27. Baird had just robbed the Jewel Tea Company supermarket located at 1709 East 71st Street, taking $1,200.00 in currency. Another officer, Patrolman Reynolds, who had radioed in the report of the robbery, gave chase in his squad car unaware that Bell was a policeman. As Officer Reynolds gave chase, Baird opened fire as he hid in a building vestibule located at 1647 East 69th Street firing at Patrolmen James Knightly and Patrick O’Brien with a .45 caliber revolver. A fierce gun battle ensued and Officers Knightly and O’Brien returned fire, firing into the vestibule where Baird was holdup. Officer Knightly was shot in his chest and leg. Officer O’Brien sustained several bullet holes in his jacket and a superficial gunshot wound. During the gun battle, Officer Bell took cover in a snowdrift near the building where Baird was holdup and had also fired several shots at Baird. Officer Reynolds arrived on scene and peered around a corner of a building with only his blue jacketed arm showing and observed Officer Bell firing. Reynolds yelled “Hold it“ and Bell turned around and fired several shots at Reynolds thinking he was another holdup man. Reynolds, not knowing Bell was a policemen, then returned fire hitting Bell three times thinking he was Baird’s accomplice. Baird was killed in the shootout and the money taken from the store was recovered.
Officer Bell was waked at Ernest Griffin Funeral Home. His funeral mass was held at Olivet Baptist Church located at 3101 South Martin Luther King Junior Drive. He was laid to rest on February 10, 1967 in Lincoln Cemetery, 12300 South Kedzie Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.
Patrolman William Y. Bell, born May 12, 1941, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on June 17, 1964.
Officer Bell was survived by his wife, Valerie and parents: Louise (nee Debham) and William.