An 18-year-old suspect has been arrested in the deadly shooting of a beloved Alabama sheriff.
In the wee hours of Sunday morning, suspect William Chase Johnson returned to the Haynesville convenience store where he’d reportedly shot Lowdnes County Sheriff John “Big John” Williams just hours earlier.
Johnson, who approached the crime scene with a gun in his hand, was taken into custody after a four-hour manhunt, according to the Montgomery Advertiser. He’s now being held at the Elmore County Jail on a murder charge and no bond.
Montgomery County Sheriff Derrick Cunningham confirmed Williams was shot around 8:15 Saturday evening. The longtime sheriff was responding to a call of a large crowd at the QV convenience store when he was gunned down.
According to authorities, Williams had approached Johnson’s truck because the music was too loud and instructed the driver turn it down. When asked why his music was so loud, Johnson, 18, reportedly drew his gun and shot Williams once in the head.
“Right there at Pump 8,” said Charles Benson, who witnessed the deadly encounter. “Big John comes up [and] asks the young man about the loud music, just like he’s done hundreds of times before. Big John don’t take no foolishness.”
“That’s when he got shot,” Benson added, saying, “I don’t understand it. The sheriff is gone over loud music? It just don’t seem right.”
BLUE ALERT: Suspect sought in connection with fatal shooting of Lowndes County Sheriff “Big John” Williams. Call 911. Please share. MORE: https://t.co/ggptp1o1hu #BlueAlert @wsfa12news pic.twitter.com/Iwu7eu9nyJ
— Mark Bullock (@markb_wsfa) November 24, 2019
News of Williams’ death rocked the tight-knit community, and condolences poured in for the law enforcement hero affectionately known as “Big John.”
“I’m saddened to hear about Sheriff Big John Williams, who was tragically killed this evening in the line of duty,” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said of the Lowndes County native. “Through his service to our country in the United States Marine Corps and his many years working in law enforcement, he dedicated his life to keeping other people safe.”
Ivey offered her sympathies to the late sheriff’s family and hailed Williams as a “consummate professional and pillar of his community.”
The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, where Williams was elected top brass in 2010, remembered the law enforcement officer as “a wonderful sheriff and an even more incredible man,” calling his death a “deeply saddening loss.”
Williams was a volunteer reserve deputy starting in 1978 and worked for the Haynesville Police Department from 1984 to 1987, according to the sheriff’s office website. After being appointed to chief deputy in 1990, he served in his full capacity before leaving the department in 2009 to work with the sheriff’s office full time.
From the scene where Lowndes County Sheriff John Williams was killed tonight pic.twitter.com/RIm1BzHS1d
— Kirsten Fiscus (@KDFiscus) November 24, 2019
[He] “always wanted to make a difference in his community and felt there was no better way to help his community than to protect and serve them in law enforcement,” the website states.
AL.com reports that Williams is the fifth Alabama law enforcement officer killed this year in the line of duty. He is survived by his wife and children.
Court records show the man accused in his killing has had previous run-ins with the law. Johnson, the son of a law enforcement officer, was arrested in August on charges of possessing brass knuckles and being a minor in possession of alcohol, according to AL.com. Those charges were later dismissed, however.
The suspect is due in court for his first hearing on Monday, Nov. 25.
The shooting remains under investigation.