A Site History Project for The Texas A&M University System's RELLIS Campus

Legendary Lawman

The Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service website describes the Robert E. “Bob” Wiatt Physical Skills Training Complex as a “multi-purpose facility complete with weight training, showers and locker rooms, honor(ing) a legendary law enforcement officer who was a driving force behind quality police-academy training.”

For 22 years, from 1982 to 2004, Wiatt served as the director of security and police at Texas A&M University. It was Wiatt who assumed command of rescue-and-recovery efforts in the aftermath of the Aggie Bonfire Collapse on November 18, 1999. Of that horrific event in which 12 current and former A&M students lost their lives, Wiatt said, “It hit me harder than any other single event in my career.”

Before assuming A&M’s top police and security post, Wiatt spent 32 years with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, stationed for much of that time in the agency’s Bryan, Texas, office. As a special agent, Wiatt was involved in the investigation of the 1963 assassination of President John Kennedy in Dallas. In 1969, he was instrumental in freeing a kidnapped Texas State Trooper, an event that served as the inspiration for Stephen Speilberg’s first feature-length motion picture, The Sugarland Express.

In 1974, in perhaps his most famous accomplishment as a lawman, Wiatt was called upon to end an 11-day prison siege in Huntsville, Texas. In the gunfight which ended the hostage crisis–the lengthiest of its kind in U.S. history–Wiatt was shot three times. His life was spared by a bullet-proof vest.

After retirement from the FBI and throughout his time with A&M, Wiatt spent considerable time helping young peace officers get a good start in their law-enforcement careers.

Long-time Brazos County Sheriff Christ Kirk remembers Bob Wiatt.

 

Chris Kirk has worked for the Brazos County Sheriff's Office since 1980. He was elected to the Office of Sheriff in 1996 and is in his sixth four-year term in the position. In 2011, he was awarded “Sheriff of the Year” by the Western States Sheriffs’ Association and in 2017 he received the Tom Tellepson Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Sheriff’s Association of Texas. Kirk has served as the coordinator for Brazos County Crime Stoppers since November 1988. He actively participates with the Sheriff's Association of Texas; having served as their President in 2007-2008 and also served the SAT Legislative Committee. He is a past president the Western States Sheriffs' Association and member of the board of directors for the Nation Sheriffs' Association. In the local community, Kirk has served as the president for the Sexual Assault Resource Center; the former district chairman of the Arrowmoon District of the Sam Houston Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America; and as the president of board of directors for Scotty’s House Children’s Advocacy Center.