Over this past weekend Lowndes County, Alabama, Sheriff John Williams was shot and killed after approaching the occupant of a pickup truck in order to ask him to turn down his music, according to local law enforcement and a witness. Williams was responding to a call from a store owner who had asked officers to break up a group that was gathered outside the building.
This shooting occurred around 8:15 p.m. on Saturday in the parking lot of a convenience store/gas station. The suspect, 18-year-old William Chase Johnson, was arrested after a four-hour search when he walked up to the shooting scene with a gun in his hand around midnight.
He has been charged with murder. No bond has been set. The Associated Press adds that, though Johnson is white and Williams is black, "It was unclear what, if any, role race played in the shooting." Johnson's only previous brush with the law came this past August when he was found to be in possession of alcohol and brass knuckles. Those charges were later dismissed.
According to The Montgomery Adviser, Williams walked up to the truck and asked Johnson why his music was so loud. At that point Johnson allegedly shot Williams once in the head. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency declined to comment on whether Williams was in uniform at the time, or if he was driving a marked or unmarked vehicle.
Charles Benson, who claims to have witnessed the event, relayed what he saw. "Right there at Pump 8," Benson said, standing in front of the store where the shooting occurred. "Big John comes up and asks the young man about the loud music, just like he has done hundreds of times before. Big John don't take no foolishness. That's when he got shot. I don't understand it. The sheriff is gone over loud music? It just don't seem right."
Sgt. Steve Jarrett, a commander for Montgomery's Alabama State Troopers, also spoke fondly of the deceased sheriff at the crime scene.
"This is a sad time for Lowndes County and the state of Alabama," Jarrett said on Saturday night. "Big John was a wonderful man. If you ever met him you would never forget him. We ask for your prayers for his family and for the Lowndes County Sheriff's Department."
Jarrett also said that "details as to how" Johnson was able to flee and then return to the scene are going to be investigated.
CNN says Johnson is the son of a Sheriff's Deputy in Montgomery County, Alabama, though little other info is known at this time. Montgomery is a neighboring county of Lowndes.
Williams was elected as the county sheriff in 2010. He was a native of Lowndes County, and he began volunteering as a reserve deputy back in 1978. He began working full-time at the sheriff's department in 1987, and was appointed chief deputy in 1990.