State mourns death of Lowndes County Sheriff John Williams

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HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - The state is mourning the death of Lowndes County Sheriff John ‘Big John’ Williams who was shot and killed Saturday night.

The shooting happened at the QV gas station at the intersection of Highway 21 and Highway 97 in Hayneville around 8:15 p.m., according to ALEA.

William Chase Johnson (Photo: ALEA)

A BLUE Alert for 18-year-old William Chase Johnson issued by ALEA was closed after Johnson returned to the crime scene around midnight and surrendered, according to AL.com. Our CBS affiliate WAKA reported a gun was taken from Johnson at the time he turned himself in. AL.com said Johnson is from Montgomery and is the son of a law enforcement officer.

According to AL.com, Sheriff Williams responded to the gas station when the owner called authorities because there was a crowd hanging out in the parking lot of the gas station. The Montgomery Advertiser reported Williams was shot when he approached a truck and asked someone inside to turn the loud music down.

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office took Johnson to the Elmore County Jail where he's being held without bond, according to our sister station WIAT.

Sheriff Williams

Lowndes County Sheriff "Big John" Williams (Photo: 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.

Governor Kay Ivey released the following statement regarding Williams' death:

“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.”

Law enforcement agencies and officials all across north Alabama have issued statements as well.

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