Lowndes County Sheriff ‘Big John’ Williams shot, killed in line of duty
Lowndes County Sheriff John “Big John” Williams was shot and killed Saturday evening in the line of duty.
A career law enforcement officer, Williams was first elected as the county’s sheriff in 2010, followed by successful reelection bids in 2014 and 2018.
Governor Kay Ivey confirmed reports of Williams’ death in a statement.
“I’m saddened to hear about Sheriff Big John Williams, who was tragically killed this evening in the line of duty,” the governor said. “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,” Ivey concluded.
According to the department website, Williams in 1978 started volunteering as a reserve deputy in Lowndes County. From 1984-1987, Williams worked for the Hayneville Police Department until he began working full time with the Lowndes County Sheriff’s office. At that point until 1990, Williams served full-time as a deputy while continuing to work for Hayneville PD on the side.
In 1990, he was appointed chief deputy and served in that capacity until leaving the department in 2009 to run for sheriff.
The Montgomery Advertiser reported that Montgomery County Sheriff Derrick Cunningham first confirmed Williams’ death on Saturday evening. The shooting reportedly occurred at approximately 8:15 p.m.
“Several law enforcement sources confirmed that Williams was answering a call at a convenience store in Hayneville when he was shot,” the Montgomery Advertiser wrote.
More details on Williams’ death were not immediately available.
UPDATE 10:12 p.m.
A Blue Alert has been issued for Williams’ alleged killer, who is on the run as of this writing:
BLUE ALERT-Lowndes County, AL-Suspect William Johnson, 18 years old, 5′ 9″, 137 lbs
Description: The State of Alabama has issued an Emergency BLUE Alert. The Lowndes County Sheriff?s Department and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency ask for your assistance in locating William Chase Johnson white male with brown hair 18 years old 5 feet 9 inches tall weighing 137 pounds. William Johnson may be traveling on foot and is believed to be a serious risk to the public. Johnson was last seen at the Q V gas station in Lowndes County Alabama around 8 15 P M on November 23 2019. If you have any information regarding William Johnson please contact the Lowndes County Sheriffs Office at 3 3 4-5 4 8-2 2 2 2 or call 9 1 1.
UPDATE 11:55 p.m.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has released a statement mourning the tragic death of Williams, who is the fifth Yellowhammer State law enforcement officer to be killed in the line of duty this year alone.
“Tonight, Alabama mourns the loss of another law enforcement officer in the line of duty,” Marshall lamented. “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,” he continued. “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,” Marshall concluded.
UPDATE 12:35 p.m.
This article may be updated as more information becomes available.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn