William C. Sheldon, Jr.

Special Agent William C. Sheldon, Jr.
Date of Birth: 
November 17, 1967
Date of Death: 
March 2, 2015
Location of Death: 
Vienna, VA
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Circumstance of Death

In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center (WTC), a team of agents to include SA Sheldon responded to the crime scene just as the second WTC tower collapsed. As millions of tons of toxic dust and debris rained down around him, SA Sheldon guided numerous civilians to safety before doubling back to join other first responders in the search, rescue and recovery efforts. After the initial search, rescue and recovery mission transitioned into procedures to recover evidence and process human remains, SA Sheldon remained committed to processing the scene at Ground Zero in Manhattan as well as the Fresh Kill Landfill Facility in Staten Island where, for several months, he and other team members sifted through tons upon tons of debris.

In January 2014, SA Sheldon was diagnosed with stage-4 cancer.  In August 2014, after a thorough medical investigation, the treating physicians and the 9/11 World Trade Center Health Commission both certified that SA Sheldon’s cancer resulted from his exposure to toxins as a first responder and while processing the scene at Ground Zero.  On March 2, 2015, after an intense and heroic battle for his life, SA Sheldon passed away from this service-related illness

Background Information

SA Sheldon’s law enforcement career began in 1995 as an Immigration Officer in Miami, FL for the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). In 1999, SA Sheldon joined ATF.  After graduating from the ATF Academy with honors, he was first assigned to the ATF Queens, NY Field Office, where he successfully investigated and prosecuted numerous firearms traffickers, armed violent criminals, armed drug traffickers, and convicted felons illegally possessing and using firearms.

After his service on 9/11, SA Sheldon enlisted in the United States Army and voluntarily deployed to Afghanistan for one year during Operation Enduring Freedom.  Assigned to the 69th Infantry Regiment, he earned the National Defense Service Medal, Army Services Ribbon, Combat Infantryman Badge, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Pathfinder Badge, Army Commendation Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, and NATO Medal.

After receiving an honorable discharge, SA Sheldon resumed his ATF career in Orlando, FL.  He later transferred to ATF Headquarters in Washington, DC where he served until his death.


SA Sheldon is survived by his wife, Gabriela Sheldon; son John Sheldon; daughter Anna Sheldon; father and mother William and Judith Sheldon, and sister Elizabeth Sheldon Welch.

Last Reviewed August 6, 2021