An 18-year-old suspect is now in custody after an Alabama sheriff was shot and killed in the line of duty while answering a call to a convenience store.
Lowndes County Sheriff John Williams was responding to a call at a convenience store in Hayneville, Alabama at about 8:15 p.m. on Saturday night when the shooting happened.
Montgomery County Sheriff Derrick Cunningham confirmed that “Big John” Williams had been killed while Cpl. Jess Thornton confirmed that agents from the State Bureau of Investigations were on their way to Lowndes County even though she did not release the nature of their deployment.
"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," Gov. Kay Ivey said in a release Saturday night. "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."
The suspect, named as William Chase Johnson, 18, immediately fled the scene of the crime on foot and the state of Alabama issued an emergency BLUE alert to apprehend the suspect.
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency canceled the alert 4 hours later after arresting the suspect. The Montgomery Advertiser says that Williams walked up to the crime scene shortly after midnight while holding a firearm and was taken into custody though these details have not yet been confirmed by the authorities.
Williams was born and raised in Lowndes County and graduated from Calhoun High School in 1976.
In 1978, he started volunteering as a reserve deputy, and for three years in the 1980s he was in the Hayneville Police Department until full-time work with the sheriff’s office.
In 1990, he was appointed to chief deputy and served in this capacity until leaving the department in 2009.
In 2010, he ran for sheriff and winning the position and has held onto the role since.
The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office website paid tribute to him saying he "always wanted to make a difference in his community and felt there was no better way to help his community than to protect and serve them in law enforcement."
"He wasn't just another sheriff, he was a friend. John was a caring person. He loved Lowndes County, " said Cunningham to ABC News' Montgomery, Alabama, affiliate, WNCF.
"He knew everybody. Anytime you lose a law enforcement officer that's a major hit. Here we lost a sheriff," Cunningham said and also remarked that Williams' family was "holding up good" and that "we love them just as much as he loved them."