About 2:15 a.m. on March 21, 1966, a suspect robbed the operator of a rooming house at 511 W. Galena St., where he once stayed. The suspect then went to his sister’s house at 3457 N. 13th Street. Knowing who the suspect was, the operator called the police and the man’s sister and told her what had happened. When the sister refused to let her brother in, he fired two shots into the air and left.
Officers saturated the area. Officer James Rivers saw the suspect attempting to get into a taxi in the 1100 block of W. Burleigh Street. Officer Rivers called the man over to the squad car where they had a brief conversation and the suspect went back towards the taxi. Then Officer Rivers called him back to the squad car and told him to put his hands up. As the suspect did, he pulled a gun and shot Officer Rivers who returned fire. The suspect was hit in the chest. As another shot was fired from the suspect, Officer Rivers fell to the street.
The suspect fled into an alley and tried to hide behind a utility pole, his pistol still in his hand, but was later captured by other officers.
Officer Rivers died at County General Hospital at 8:20 a.m., about five and a half hours after a bullet from a .38 caliber ripped through his forehead.
Officer Rivers was 26-years-old and had joined the Milwaukee Police Department as a police aide in 1957. He became a police officer in 1961. He had two children, a son, 5, and a daughter, 4. His wife was about six months pregnant at the time of his death.