A well-known Lowndes County Sheriff was killed in the line of duty Saturday night in Hayneville, Alabama.
Sheriff John Williams, also known as “Big John,” was killed outside a QV convenience store at the intersection of Highway 21 and Highway 97 on Saturday around 8 p.m., according to AL.com.
Williams had responded to a call from the store owner who asked officers to disperse a group of people that were standing around outside the building.
Just after 10 p.m., the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) issued a Blue Alert for the suspect identified as 18-year-old William Chase Johnson, who was reportedly driving a stolen vehicle which he later abandoned.
However, Johnson returned to the scene of the alleged crime just after midnight carrying a handgun and was taken into custody. The ALEA then canceled the manhunt, according to Fox 5 Atlanta.
Saturday evening, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall announced the tragic loss on Twitter.
Tonight, Alabama mourns the loss of Lowndes County Sheriff “Big John” Williams, who was killed in the line of duty. Sheriff Williams dedicated over 40 years of his life to public safety, including 19 years as Sheriff. Please pray for his family and fellow officers. #ThinBlueLine pic.twitter.com/5o8EytjjVz
— AG Steve Marshall (@AGSteveMarshall) November 24, 2019
The attorney general also issued a press release that read:
Sheriff Williams is the fifth line-of-duty death of an Alabama law enforcement officer to gun fire this year and the sixth to lose his life overall in our state over the last 11 months. Serving the public in the role of a peace officer is a difficult calling, fraught with peril, yet thankfully many Alabama men and women choose to answer the call, often time putting their lives in danger to protect us. It simply cannot be said enough that we owe these heroes our gratitude and our support.
I know all Alabamians join me in passing along our condolences and prayers to Sheriff Williams’ family and to the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office.
Johnson, who is from Montgomery and the son of a law enforcement officer, was arrested and charged in August for possession of brass knuckles and being a minor in possession of alcohol. However, those charges were later dismissed, court records said.
Michael Jackson, the district attorney for Alabama’s Fourth Judicial Circuit, called Williams a “great friend,” adding that “he was a great sheriff but an even better person.”
“He really cared about the Black Belt. He came over to Selma many times to help fight the gang problem,” Jackson concluded.