UPDATE: Suspect in Killing of Lowndes County Sheriff in Custody

The suspect in the shooting death of the Lowndes County Sheriff is is custody. The Blue Alert for 18-year-old William Chase Johnson has been canceled with his arrest.

Johnson had been sought for the past several hours after Lowndes County Sheriff John “Big John” Williams was shot and killed at the QV gas station in downtown Hayneville while responding to a call.


Johnson was taken into custody after returning to the gas station around midnight, according to Sgt. Steve Jarrett of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA). He was taken into custody without incident.

“There was a handgun that appeared to be taken away from the suspect when he was taken into custody,” Jarrett said.

William Chase Johnson – from Alabama Law Enforcement Agency

He says Johnson will now be interviewed.

“It’s devastating because Big Jon is a well-liked guy, and the community just needs to come together to support the family during this time,” ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor told Alabama News Network at the scene.

So far, few details have been released about what led to the shooting.

The shooting happened around 8 p.m. Saturday night. The gas station is on Tuskeena Street, at the intersection of highways 97 and 21, just a short distance from the Lowndes County Courthouse.

“Tonight, Alabama mourns the loss of another law enforcement officer in the line of duty,” said Attorney General Steve Marshall in a statement.  “Sheriff Williams devoted his life to law enforcement.  He gave more than 40 years to public safety in his home county, serving the last 9 years as Lowndes County Sheriff.  His dedication and experience are irreplaceable.

Photo from Monroe County, Alabama Sheriff’s Office

Lowndes County Sheriff John Williams – From the Alabama Sheriffs Association

Williams was awarded the 2015 Partner in Education of the Year Award from the Lowndes County Board of Education, because of his active participation with the youth of the Lowndes County Schools. He led a sheriff’s office made up of more than 40 people, and had been sergeant-at-arms of the Alabama Sheriffs Association.

“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,” Marshall said.

Williams was born and raised in Lowndes County, graduating from Calhoun High School in 1976.   In 1978 he started volunteering as a reserve deputy.

From 1984-1987 Sheriff Williams worked for the Hayneville Police Department until he began working full time with the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, working in both the sheriff’s office and the police department.

From 1987 to 1990, Williams served his community as a deputy. In 1990, he was appointed by Sheriff John Hulett to Chief Deputy and served in this capacity until leaving the department in 2009.

In 2010, he  was first elected as Lowndes County Sheriff.

Gov. Kay 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,” she said.

The Blue Alert that had been issued for Johnson’s arrest is designed to help in the arrest of violent criminals who kill or seriously injure local, state or federal law enforcement officers.

— CNN contributed to this report

Categories: Montgomery, News, West Alabama