Lowndes County sheriff fatally shot in line of duty; suspect arrested

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LOWNDES COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT, CNN) — An Alabama sheriff was shot and killed Saturday night.

Lowndes County Sheriff John “Big John” Williams died Saturday in the line of duty, Gov. Ivey said. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency confirmed the State Bureau of Investigation responded to the scene. Lowndes County is southwest of Montgomery.

ALEA issued a blue alert for suspected shooter 18-year-old William Chase Johnson around 9 p.m. Authorities took him into custody around midnight.

After further investigation, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office confirms Johnson is the son of a Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office deputy.

A photo provided by the Elmore County Ala. Sheriff’s Office shows William Chase Johnson, a suspect in the fatal shooting of Lowndes County Sheriff John Williams Saturday night, Nov. 23, 2019 in Haynesville, Ala. (Elmore County Ala. Sheriff’s Office/Montgomery Advertiser via AP)

Johnson was taken into custody by Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. He was transported to Elmore County Jail where he remains without bond, according to ALEA State Trooper Cpl. Jesse Thornton.

18-year-old William Chase Johnson

In a statement, Ivey said “I’m saddened to hear about Sheriff Big John Williams, who was tragically killed this evening in the line of duty. 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. He will be remembered as a consummate professional and pillar of his community. I offer my prayers and deepest sympathies to his family and to the men and women of the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department.”

Live Stream of Vigil for Lowndes County Sheriff

The Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office released a statement, saying “This is such tragic loss. Sheriff Williams always had kind words for everyone. You could not ask for a better man.”

Lowndes County Sheriff John Williams

The sheriff “devoted his life to law enforcement,” Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said in a statement. Williams spent more than 40 years in public safety, “serving the last 19 years as Lowndes County sheriff, Marshall said.

Williams is the fifth law enforcement officer in Alabama to die from gunfire in the line of duty in the past 11 months, according to Marshall.

“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,” Marshall said.


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