Lowndes County, Alabama Sheriff John Williams was shot and killed Saturday night, Derrick Cunningham, a Sheriff in neighboring Montgomery County, confirmed to the Montgomery Advertiser.
Williams reportedly approached a pick-up driver around 8:15 p.m. on Saturday at the QV Convenience store not far from the Lowndes County Courthouse and asked an occupant of the truck to lower the volume of music coming from inside the vehicle.
After a four-hour search for the suspect, William Chase Johnson, the man reportedly returned to the location where the shooting took place with a gun in hand. Johnson was arrested by police just after midnight on Sunday. Johnson was not taken to a jail in Lowndes County, but was instead taken to a jail in neighboring Elmore County.
Big crowd gathering at prayer vigil for Lowndes County Sheriff “Big John” Williams in Hayneville, who was killed in line of duty Saturday night. pic.twitter.com/igT4mCcYmW— Mike Cason (@MikeCasonAL) November 24, 2019
A man identified in the report as Charles Benson said he witnessed the shooting and described it to The Montgomery Advertiser.
“Right there at Pump 8,” Benson said, in an interview outside of the QV Convenience store where the shooting occurred, per The Montgomery Advertiser. “Big John comes up and asks the young man about the loud music, just like he has done hundreds of times before. Big John don’t take no foolishness.”
“That’s when he got shot. I don’t understand it. The sheriff is gone over loud music? It just don’t seem right,” he added.
Williams, known as “Big John” in the community due to his height, was a well-respected police officer in Lowndes County and was well-known in law-enforcement circles throughout the state of Alabama, The Montgomery Advertiser reported. Williams began working as a police officer in 1978 as a reserve deputy and then served in the 1980s in the Hayneville Police Department until he began working full-time in the sheriff’s office, The Montgomery Advertiser included.
In 1990, Williams received an appointment to chief deputy until he left the Hayneville Police Department in 2009. The following year, he was elected to his role as Lowndes County sheriff which he has served in for the past nine years.
Per the Lowndes County Sheriff‘s website, Williams was raised in Lowndes County and attended the local Calhoun High School before his career in law enforcement.
In a statement posted to its Facebook page, neighboring Montgomery County shared condolences to Williams.
“We are deeply saddened by the great loss of Lowndes County Sheriff Big John,” the Facebook post said. “He was a wonderful sheriff and an even more incredible man. To know him was to love him. His family, friends, and all of Lowndes County remain in our thoughts and prayers. Big John, you will be greatly missed.”
Per The Montgomery Advertiser, the incident is under investigation by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.