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William Chase Johnson Charged with Capital Murder in 2019 AL Slaying of Sheriff John Williams
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Thread: William Chase Johnson Charged with Capital Murder in 2019 AL Slaying of Sheriff John Williams

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    Administrator Helen's Avatar
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    William Chase Johnson Charged with Capital Murder in 2019 AL Slaying of Sheriff John Williams


    Sheriff John Williams




    Lowndes County Sheriff Big John Williams shot and killed; 18-year-old suspect surrenders

    By Carol Robinson
    AL.com

    Lowndes County Sheriff John Williams was shot and killed Saturday night while in the line of duty. After about a three-hour manhunt, the 18-year-old suspect in the deadly shooting returned to the crime scene and surrendered. A gun was taken from him at the time he turned himself in.

    The shooting happened shortly after 8 p.m. at a QV convenience store at the intersection of Highway 21 and Highway 97 in Hayneville in Lowndes County. Williams was slain while responding to a call at the store, but ALEA
    Trooper Sgt. Steve Jarrett said they could not yet release the nature of that call as it is part of the ongoing investigation, but said it was over something silly.

    Jarrett and ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor spoke with the media late Saturday night, calling Williams death a blow to the law enforcement community. Its a very sad time for Lowndes County and the state of Alabama,'' said

    Jarrett, who said he had known Williams for most of their law enforcement careers.

    He was a wonderful man,'' Jarrett said. Everybody in law enforcement knew him. If you ever met him, youd never forget him. He worked 24/7 and was an outstanding sheriff.

    Williams is the fifth Alabama law enforcement officer killed this year in the line of duty. He leaves behind a wife and children, who were on the scene. Were taking good care of them, Jarrett said.

    State Bureau of Investigation agents are on the scene, said ALEA Cpl. Jess Thornton. Also on the scene is Montgomery Sheriff Derrick Cunningham, a close friend of Williams. The Alabama Sheriffs Association put out a call for all possible assistance and sheriffs from around the state are heading to Lowndes County.

    Calhoun County Sheriff Matt Wad was among those who responded to the call for help. "He was as fine a man youll ever find. He always had a kind word for everyone,'' Wade said. Its just heartbreaking.

    "He was a great friend,'' said Michael Jackson, the district attorney for Alabamas Fourth Judicial Circuit, recalling a time when Williams drove to Birmingham to pick up Jackson when he was stranded at the airport. Man, this hurts.

    Shortly after 10 p.m., the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency issued a Blue Alert for the 18-year-old suspect, William Chase Johnson. Johnson is a white male. He is 5-feet, 9-inches tall and weighs 137 pounds. Johnson was believed to be traveling on foot and deemed a serious risk to the public. Johnson was last seen at the QV gas station where Williams was killed.

    The suspect was reportedly in a stolen vehicle. The stolen vehicle is believed to have been abandoned and recovered and the suspect is believed to be on foot. "He will be caught,'' Jarrett said.

    Just after midnight, authorities said, Johnson returned to the crime scene and surrendered. ALEA cancelled the Blue Alert at 12:24 a.m. Sunday.

    Johnson is from Montgomery and the son of a law enforcement officer. He was arrested in August on a charge of being in possession of brass knuckles and being a minor in possession of alcohol, but those charges were later dismissed, according to court records.

    Gov. Kay Ivey expressed her condolences via Twitter.

    Im 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 USMC and his many years working in law enforcement, he dedicated his life to keeping other people safe, she wrote. He will be remembered as a consummate profession and pillar of his community. I offer my prayers and deepest sympathies to his family and the men and women of the Lowndes County Sheriffs Department.

    Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall released this statement: Tonight, Alabama mourns the loss of another law enforcement officer in the line of duty, said Attorney General Marshall. 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 9 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 Sheriffs Office.

    "Im saddened to hear about the shooting death of Lowndes County Sheriff Big John Williams,'' said Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed. A consummate lawman who served his community, he will be sorely missed. Our prayers go out to his colleagues, friends and family.

    "Its devastating,'' said ALEAs Taylor. Big John was a well-liked guy and the community just needs to come together and support the family during this time.

    Williams was born and raised in Lowndes County and graduated from Calhoun High School in 1976, according to the sheriffs office website.

    Sheriff Williams 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, reads the bio on the website.

    Williams in 1978 started volunteering as a reserve deputy under then Sheriff John Hulett.

    From 1984 through 1987, Williams worked for the Hayneville Police Department until he began working full time with the Lowndes County Sheriffs Office. He not only worked full time with the Sheriffs Office, but continued his employment with Hayneville Police Department.

    From 1987 to 1990, Williams served as a deputy. In 1990, he was appointed by Sheriff John Hulett to chief deputy and served in this capacity until leaving the department in 2009.

    In 2010, he successfully ran for sheriff and was reelected again in 2014 was once again elected.

    https://www.al.com/news/montgomery/2...e-of-duty.html
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

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    Edited:

    Alabama sheriff fatally shot in head over loud music; suspect is son of a deputy: reports

    By Dom Calicchio
    Fox News

    The music playing inside a truck in a convenience store parking lot was too loud Saturday night, so an Alabama sheriff asked the driver to turn down the volume.

    Thats when the 18-year-old driver pointed a gun at the sheriff and shot him in the head, killing him, authorities say.

    That account was among the shocking details emerging Sunday following Saturdays fatal shooting of Lowndes County Sheriff John Williams Sr., a no-nonsense law enforcement professional and former Marine, known as Big John.

    The suspect in the killing is the son of a sheriffs deputy from Montgomery County, according to WSFA-TV.

    Charles Benson, a customer at the QV store in Hayneville, outside Montgomery, where the shooting occurred, told the Montgomery Advertiser he saw everything.

    Right there at Pump 8, Benson said, pointing to the crime scene. Big John comes up and asks the young man about the loud music, just like he has done hundreds of times before. Big John dont 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.

    The shooting happened around 8:15 p.m. The suspect, identified as William Chase Johnson, initially fled but returned to the crime scene with a firearm about four hours later and was taken into custody, according to reports.

    Johnson is scheduled to appear Monday morning in Lowndes County District Court to face murder charges, AL.com reported.

    The Montgomery County Sheriffs Office confirmed that Johnson is the son of one of its deputies, according to WSFA.

    Officials from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency wouldnt comment when the Advertiser asked if Williams was on duty and in uniform at the time of the shooting, or whether he was using his patrol car or an unmarked vehicle. The case remains under investigation.

    Initial reports that Williams had been responding to a call from the store were not accurate, according to local media.

    https://www.foxnews.com/us/alabama-s...deputy-reports
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

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    Charge upgraded to capital murder against suspect in sheriffs death

    By WSFA Staff

    MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The suspect in Lowndes County Sheriff John Big John Williams shooting death has now been charged with capital murder.

    District Attorney Charlotte Tesmer said Tuesday that a capital murder warrant has been signed against William Chase Johnson. Johnson was originally charged with murder.

    According to the capital statute in Alabama law, its a capital offense to kill a law enforcement officer on duty, regardless of whether the defendant knew the victim was a peace officer at the time of the offense. WSFA 12 News is working to confirm if the state could seek the death penalty in this case due to Johnsons age.

    Sheriff Williams was shot and killed at a QV gas station in Haynesville on the night of Nov. 23. Johnson was taken into custody at the same gas station after a nearly four-hour manhunt, according to law enforcement.

    Johnson made his initial appearance in court the morning of Nov. 25. Crenshaw County District Judge Tom Sport was appointed to preside over the case after Lowndes County District Judge Adrian Johnson recused because he was present at the crime scene.

    Sport issued a gag order in the case, preventing those involved from making any public statements to the media.

    The Montgomery County Sheriffs Office confirmed Johnson is the son of one of its deputies.

    https://www.wsfa.com/2019/12/04/char...heriffs-death/
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

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    New details in 'Big John' Williams shooting revealed at preliminary hearing for suspect William Chase Johnson

    By Marty Roney
    Montgomery Advertiser

    HAYNEVILLE Lowndes County Sheriff Big John Williams was shot once in the face while answering a call the night of Nov. 23, and the man charged with capital murder in the case admitted to investigators hours after that he shot the sheriff, a state investigator testified Monday.

    Crenshaw County Circuit Judge Tom Sport ruled Monday morning during a preliminary hearing the probable cause exists for a Lowndes County grand jury to review the case against William Chase Johnson, 18, of Montgomery.

    Facts surrounding the case came from State Bureau of Investigations Lt. Shawn Loughridge. He is the case agent and was the only witness to testify. Johnson is being held without bond in the Elmore County Jail.

    He appeared before Sport dressed in black and white striped jail uniform, restrained in handcuffs and ankle chains. Johnson is the son of a Montgomery County Sheriff's Office deputy.

    Williams, 62, received a single gunshot wound that struck him between his left nostril and chin, the agent said. An autopsy concluded that the manner of death was homicide and that the cause of death was a gunshot wound.

    Williams was not dispatched to the QV convenience store that night where the shooting occurred. It was Williams practice to drive around the county and Hayneville, Loughridge said. The sheriff saw the large crowd that had gathered and pulled into the store.

    Video footage from the stores surveillance cameras shows the sheriff pulled up in the parking lot in his unmarked county truck to ..disperse a very large crowd playing very loud music, loitering and blocking access to the gas pumps and store, Loughridge said.

    He continued his testimony that the pickup Johnson was driving, a black Chevrolet followed another Chevrolet pickup driven by Perry Slade Ivy into the parking lot after Williams arrived. He described both trucks as being jacked up with lights on the tires playing loud music.

    Williams first went to the truck driven by Ivy, which was playing very loud music. and multiple witnesses said Williams identified himself as being the sheriff by saying Im the sheriff, and told Ivy to turn down the music, Loughridge said.

    Video then showed Johnson allegedly getting out of his truck and approaching Williams in a aggressive manner, the agent said. Williams identified himself as the sheriff to Johnson multiple witnesses told investigators, and told Johnson to go back to his truck.

    Johnson returned to his truck.

    The sheriff redirected his attention to Johnsons truck, Lockridge said. He walked up to the driver's side of the door and you see the sheriff fall to the ground."

    On cross examination by Troy Teague, one of Johnsons attorneys, Loughridge said that Williams vehicle was unmarked and store video showed he did not use his lights in the parking lot. Williams was wearing a black jacket, khaki pants and a black ball cap, but none of his clothing had markings showing he was the sheriff and that Williams was not wearing a badge. Williams was armed at the time, but did not fire, Loughridge said. Video showed that Williams did not draw his weapon.

    Loughridge also said that another shooting occurred after Williams was shot. John Williams Jr., the sheriffs son, was in the vehicle with his father. Johnson fled the parking lot on foot after shooting Williams, Loughridge said.

    The younger Williams got out of the unmarked truck and shot and struck the vehicle driven by Ivy. One of the bullets struck Amber Pippin, Loughridge said. She was a passenger in Ivys truck. The younger Williams does not face criminal charges.

    Johnson turned himself in to authorities about four hours after the shooting, walking up to the parking lot. Loughridge testified that he was carrying a loaded Glock 9mm. semi-automatic handgun at the time.

    After being taken into custody and given his rights. Johnson made a statement to investigators that he admitted that he was armed when he got out of the truck and first approached Williams and that he admitted to shooting Williams when he approached his truck.

    After Sport ruled probable cause existed in the case, he heard defense arguments about granting bond in the case.

    "This case is terribly ugly, and we won't even try to dress it up," Teague told Sport. "Our client is a young person, he was working up until that night. He has no significant criminal history, He is not a flight risk.

    "We will abide by any conditions this court places on bond, as to ankle bracelet of things like that."

    The state then objected, telling Sport they were prepared to recall Loughridge for testimony that Johnson allegedly threatened a man a week before William's shooting with a handgun in an incident on the man's farm. Loughridge was not recalled to the stand.

    Sport denied the motion for bond.

    Williams' was a beloved in his home county, and well respected in law enforcement circles in the state. Lowndes County is a close knit, rural county, nestled in the heart of the Black Belt, with a population of about 11,000. Hayneville, the county seat, is about 25 miles west of Montgomery.

    His height, at 6-feet-6 inches tall, gave him his nickname. He served more than 40 years in law enforcement in Lowndes County, starting out at as a reserve deputy under then sheriff John Hulett in 1978 before being hired with the Hayneville Police Department.

    After serving three years with the Hayneville PD he went to sheriffs office as a deputy. He worked his way up to chief deputy and was elected sheriff in 2010.

    https://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com...ng/2803758001/
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

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    Edited:

    Will 'Big John' murder hearings move out of Lowndes? State, defense say no

    By Marty Roney
    Montgomery Advertiser

    Pretrial hearings in the "Big John" Williams case should remain in Lowndes County, the state and defense say.

    Retired Escambia County circuit judge Bert Rice has been appointed to preside in the case. William Chase Johnson, 18, of Montgomery, faces capital murder charges in the killing of Williams, who was the Lowndes County sheriff.

    Rice entered a motion asking if pretrial hearings could be taken up somewhere other than the Lowndes County Courthouse in Hayneville. The courthouse is closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

    The state and defense have filed motions in response saying that although the courthouse in Hayneville is closed "...hearings are being held in the courthouse on a limited and restricted bases." both motions read. The motions also state that both sides agree that any pending pretrial hearings on motions "... can be held safely in the Lowndes County Courthouse."

    The state and defense have agreed to having no more than five people per side at any hearing, in addition to the legal teams, in an effort to control access and ensure social distancing.

    A major issue that hasn't been settled is the defense requesting bond in the case. Johnson was ordered to be held without bond, which is standard in a capital case. He is being held in the Elmore County Jail. Rice has not issued an order relating to where pretrial hearings are to be held. he also hasn't acted on the bond request., court records show.

    The case is yet to be presented to the local grand jury.

    https://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com...on/5557084002/
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

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    Lowndes County Courthouse To Be Renamed After Big John Williams

    Alabama News Nwtwork

    The Lowndes County Courthouse will soon have a new name.

    Lowndes County Sheriff Chris West said the sheriffs office, along with the Lowndes County Commission, are holding a courthouse renaming and dedication ceremony in honor of fallen sheriff Big John Williams on Monday at 10AM at the Hayneville courthouse.

    Williams was shot and killed outside the QV gas station in Hayneville in November 2019.

    18-year-old William Chase Johnson has been charged with the capital murder of Big John Williams.

    Johnson is currently in the Elmore County Jail.

    https://www.alabamanews.net/2020/08/...john-williams/
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

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    Alabama Sheriff 'Big John' Williams' killing a 'huge misunderstanding,' defense lawyer says

    By Marty Roony
    Montgomery Advertiser

    HAYNEVILLE An attorney for the teenager charged with capital murder in the shooting death of Lowndes County Sheriff Big John Williams called the incident a huge misunderstanding," though he said his client doesnt deny pulling the trigger.

    Retired Escambia County Circuit Judge Bert Rice heard motions in the case Thursday afternoon. William Chase Johnson, 18, is charged with capital murder and is being held in the Elmore County Jail under no bond. A previous judge had denied the defense request to set bond. The defense is asking Rice reconsider bond.

    Williams was shot and killed in the line of duty the night of Nov. 23 when he was dispersing a large crowd in the parking lot of the QV convenience store in Hayneville.

    Not to insult anyone, but this was a huge misunderstanding, Troy Teague, one of Johnsons attorneys, told Rice. The sheriff, for whatever reason, did not use his blue lights. He was in plain clothes. He knew he was the sheriff, they didnt. My client was a child when this happened.

    How we got to this point is almost unfathomable.

    Kenneth Gibbs, an assistant attorney general assisting in prosecuting the case, told Rice there was ample eye witness testimony that shows Williams did identify himself as the sheriff.

    Pardon my language, but his (Johnson's) response was I dont give a f---, Gibbs told the judge.

    The defense objected to the states comment about any alleged response from Williams, and Rice had Gibbs comment taken from the record.

    Teague said Johnson is not a threat to the public and should be considered for bond. Williams sat at the defense table dressed in black and white striped jail garb, restrained in handcuffs, belly chains and leg irons. He is the son of a Montgomery County Sheriff's Office deputy.

    There is little doubt who pulled the trigger, he doesnt deny it, Teague continued. But until a jury decides, hes innocent and he should be eligible for bond.

    Rice said he would take the request for bond under advisement and review the transcript from the preliminary hearing in the case. He said he would like to have a decision on bond handed down by mid-September.

    The popular lawman died just across the street from the courthouse which now bears his name, and about two blocks away from his home.

    Williams, 62, was a Lowndes County native who started his career with the Hayneville Police Department before going to the sheriff's office as a deputy. He worked his way up through the ranks to become chief deputy before being elected sheriff. He got his nickname from his towering stature, standing more than 6-feet-5-inches.

    Testimony during a January preliminary hearing brought out that Williams was shot once in the face and that Johnson admitted to investigators hours after that he shot the sheriff.

    Facts surrounding the case came from State Bureau of Investigations Lt. Shawn Loughridge. He is the case agent and was the only witness to testify.

    Williams, 62, received a single gunshot wound to the face, testimony brought out.

    Video footage from the stores surveillance cameras shows the sheriff pulled up in the parking lot in his unmarked county truck to ..disperse a very large crowd playing very loud music, loitering and blocking access to the gas pumps and store, Loughridge said.

    Loughridge testified the pickup Johnson was driving, a black Chevrolet, followed another Chevrolet pickup driven by Perry Slade Ivy into the parking lot after Williams arrived. He described both trucks as being jacked up with lights on the tires playing loud music.

    Williams first went to the truck driven by Ivy, which was playing very loud music. and multiple witnesses said Williams identified himself as being the sheriff by saying Im the sheriff, and told Ivy to turn down the music, Loughridge said.

    Video then showed Johnson allegedly getting out of his truck and approaching Williams in a aggressive manner, the agent said. Williams identified himself as the sheriff to Johnson multiple witnesses told investigators, and told Johnson to go back to his truck.

    Johnson returned to his truck.

    The sheriff redirected his attention to Johnsons truck, Lockridge said. He walked up to the driver's side of the door, and you see the sheriff fall to the ground."

    On cross examination by Teague, one of Johnsons attorneys, Loughridge said that Williams vehicle was unmarked and store video showed he did not use his lights in the parking lot. Williams was wearing a black jacket, khaki pants and a black ball cap, but none of his clothing had markings showing he was the sheriff and that Williams was not wearing a badge. Williams was armed at the time, but did not fire, Loughridge said. Video showed that Williams did not draw his weapon.

    Johnson turned himself in to authorities about four hours after the shooting, walking up to the parking lot. Loughridge testified that he was carrying a loaded Glock 9mm. semi-automatic handgun at the time.

    After being taken into custody and given his rights, Johnson told investigators he was armed when he got out of the truck and first approached Williams. He also admitted to shooting Williams when he approached his truck.

    https://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com...ty/5631891002/
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

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