‘Big John’ Williams: Tribute to Lowndes County Sheriff

john williams

Sheriff Website Big John Williams, sheriff of Lowndes County, Alabama.

John Williams, the Lowndes County, Alabama Sheriff who was shot and killed at a convenience store, was a Marine Corps veteran who was affectionately known as “Big John” and served his community as sheriff for 19 years. His time in law enforcement goes back decades.

A manhunt was under way for the man accused of murdering Williams on November 23, 2019, but the suspect is now in custody. He’s 18 year old William Chase Johnson, according to the State of Alabama. Williams was shot at the QV convenience store near the Lowndes County Courthouse in Hayneville. It’s believed the suspect was in a stolen vehicle, AL.com reports. Williams was responding to a call.

The Alabama Sheriff’s Association website calls the slain sheriff “Big John” Williams, and says he was the sergeant-at-arms on their board. Lowndes County is a county in the State of Alabama.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Williams Was Remembered as ‘As Fine a Man as You’ll Ever Find’

Big John Williams

Big John Williams

The tributes flowed in for Williams as news of his death spread. Some law enforcement officials who responded to the scene were his friends.

Calhoun County Sheriff Matt Wade told AL.com: “He was as fine a man you’ll ever find. He always had a kind word for everyone. It’s just heartbreaking.”

The District Attorney, Michael Jackson, called Williams “a great friend” to the newspaper.

2. Big John Williams Was Honored for His Work With Youths in Schools

The Lowndes County Sheriff's website says that Sheriff Williams maintained "an active role himself in the visitation of the schools and on any given day of the week you are liable to find him attending any of the school’s athletic functions."

As a result of these efforts, Sheriff Williams "was awarded the 2015 Partner in Education of the Year Award from the Lowndes County Board of Education, because of his active participation with the youth of the Lowndes County Schools," the website says.

It adds: "The Sheriff of Lowndes County is John ‘Big John’ Williams and his office is comprised of several divisions including Patrol, Criminal Investigations, Administration, and the Lowndes County Detention Center."

3. The Governor Called Williams a ‘Pillar’ of the Community

The governor, Kay Ivey, praised Williams on Twitter. “I’m saddened to hear about Sheriff Big John Williams, who was tragically killed this evening in the line of duty,” she wrote.

“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. 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 Sheriff’s Department.”

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall wrote on social media: “Tonight, Alabama mourns the loss of Lowndes County Sheriff ‘Big John’ Williams, who was killed in the line of duty. Sheriff Williams dedicated over 40 years of his life to public safety, including 19 years as Sheriff. Please pray for his family and fellow officers. #ThinBlueLine.”

4. The Sheriff Was Born & Raised in the County He Served for Decades in Law Enforcement

According to the Sheriff’s website, Sheriff “Big John” Williams “was born & raised in Lowndes County and graduated from Calhoun High School in 1976. 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.”

In 1978, the website says, “he started volunteering as a reserve deputy under then Sheriff John Hulett.”

From 1984-1987, it says, Sheriff Williams “worked for the Hayneville Police Department until he began working full time with the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office.” He not “only worked full time with the Sheriff’s Office but continued his employment with Hayneville Police Department.”

From 1987 to 1990, it continues, Sheriff Williams “served his community 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, according to the website, “he ran for Sheriff of Lowndes County and was elected by a majority of votes by the people he had been serving his entire life. In 2014 Sheriff Williams was once again elected by his peers, to hold the title of the highest ranking law enforcement officer of Lowndes County as the Sheriff.”
Fox News reported that he served in the U.S. Marine Corps.

5. The Suspect Is the Son of a Law Enforcement Officer

william chase johnson

Alabama releaseWilliam Chase Johnson

According to AL.com, the suspect, William Chase Johnson, is the son of a law enforcement officer. He’s from Montgomery and has past arrests for brass knuckles and alcohol possession, but they were dismissed, the newspaper reported.

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, 5’9”, 137lbs,” the alert says.

“William Johnson may be traveling on foot and is believed to be a serious risk to the public. Johnson was last seen at the QV gas station in Lowndes County, Alabama around 8:15PM on November 23, 2019. If you have any information regarding William Johnson, please contact the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office at (334)548-2222 or call 911.”