Reaction to the Loss of Sheriff “Big John” Williams
Reaction poured in after Lowndes County Sheriff John “Big John” Williams was shot and killed while responding to a noise complaint at a gas station in Hayneville Saturday night.
18-year old William Chase Johnson is the suspected shooter and was taken into custody around midnight after turning himself in to law enforcement at the same store the shooting took place.
Law enforcement officers and other departments quickly traveled to Hayneville to give a helping and to show support for the family and community.
“Being a close friend of mine, he wasn’t just my colleague in law enforcement. He wasn’t just another sheriff. He was a friend,” Montgomery County Sheriff Derrick Cunningham said.
The downtown Hayneville QV gas station’s doors were open Sunday morning, only hours after the incident took place. Williams’ family and friends were still getting over the shock.
“He was my brother and I loved him. And we love his family. We spent ten years together now. We both got elected the same day and so we spent a lot of time together,” Clarke County Sheriff Ray Norris said.
Williams was born and raised in Lowndes County and worked for the Hayneville Police Department from 1984-1987. That same year, he began working full time at the Sheriff’s office.
Williams was elected as Lowndes County Sheriff in 2010.
“This tragedy has destroyed two law enforcement families. The young man that did this, his daddy is law enforcement. And, of course, we’ve lost our sheriff,” Norris said.
Cunningham said that seeing so much help pour in from surrounding counties soon after the incident shows the support system law enforcement can bring.
“Last night it brought me to tears when you look around. We had over twenty sheriffs here last night. They came from Calhoun County, from Escambia County, Monroe County- they were here. I mean, when they heard about it, they came here,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham called Williams his best friend.
“He was a gentle giant for us. With me, I’m really miss him. He was my ride or die. I mean, everywhere I went, he went. We went to national conferences together. We went to local conferences; we went to all the conventions; we went to all the meetings together. I served on all those boards, and he was right there with me. Everything that we did, we did together,” Cunningham said.
Funeral arrangements have not been announced at this time, but we are told by Clarke County Sheriff Ray Norris that Alabama News Network would soon receive funeral information.
The Alabama State Bureau of Investigation continues to investigate the incident.