1 arrested after Lowndes County Sheriff shot and killed, state officials react

UPDATE: The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency has canceled the BLUE Alert. The suspect wanted in the shooting death of Lowndes County Sheriff John Williams has been apprehended. According to a release from ALEA, 18-year-old William Johnson is in custody.

LOWNDES COUNTY, Ala. – Lowndes County Sheriff John Williams was shot and killed Saturday night, according to our news partners at AL.com.

Our CBS affiliate WAKA said the shooting happened around 8 p.m. Saturday at the QV gas station in Hayneville, around 20 miles southwest of Montgomery.

WAKA said Williams was an active participant with youth programs in Lowndes County Schools, receiving the 2015 Partner in Education award. He was also a sergeant-at-arms of the Alabama Sheriff’s Association.

Williams’s career in law enforcement began in 1978, when he volunteered as a reserve deputy.

He worked for Hayneville Police from 1984-87, when he joined the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office.

He was a deputy from 1987-90 until Sheriff John Hulett promoted him to chief deputy. He served as chief deputy until 2009, when he left the sheriff’s office.

He was first elected Sheriff in 2010.

Lowndes County Sheriff “Big John” Williams (Photo courtesy Alabama Sheriff’s Association)

Governor Kay Ivey released the following statement:

“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.”

Attorney General Steve Marshall also issued a statement, saying the state was mourning the loss.

“Tonight, Alabama mourns the loss of another law enforcement officer in the line of duty. Lowndes County Sheriff ‘Big John’ Williams died from gun fire while responding to an incident in Hayneville.  Sheriff Williams devoted his life to law enforcement.  He gave more than 40 years to public safety in his home county, serving the last 19 years as Lowndes County Sheriff.  His dedication and experience are irreplaceable. 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.”

ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor told our CBS affiliate WAKA Williams was “well-liked.”

“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.”

On Sunday, Taylor further stated,  “We in Alabama’s law enforcement community mourn the loss of a dedicated brother. Not only was Lowndes County Sheriff ‘Big John’ Williams a committed man of the law, but he was kind and loved by many. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Williams family.”

Sunday morning, Jay Town, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, offered his thoughts and prayers for friends and family of Williams.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Lowndes Co. Sheriff “Big John” Williams, who was killed in the line of duty while protecting and serving his community. His end of watch comes too soon! Violence against any law enforcement is utterly reprehensible.”

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