A beloved Black Alabama sheriff was shot and killed Saturday night by the son of a white police officer, and the community has been rocked by the senseless murder.

Law enforcement apprehended the suspect responsible for the murder of Lowndes County Sheriff John Williams after a nearly four-hour search.

The sheriff was reportedly fatally shot Saturday night by William Chase Johnson, after asking him to turn down the music inside his truck at a QV convenience store at the intersection of Highway 21 and Highway 97 in Hayneville in Lowndes County, reports.

According to, the suspect was taken into custody when he walked up to the crime scene just after midnight, firearm in hand, and gave himself up.

Johnson has been charged with murder, and according to jail records, no bond has been set.

“Right there at Pump 8,” said eyewitness Charles Benson. “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.”

“I’m proud to say he was my friend,” Lowndes County District Judge Adrian Johnson said. “He didn’t care if you were black or white, rich or poor. He took care of people. He knew everyone in the county. He always had a smile, he was always ready to serve.

“This is just a tragic end to a fine, fine man,” Johnson added. “I just can’t imagine Lowndes County without John Williams.”

“He was a wonderful man,” said Sgt. Steve Jarrett of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. “Everybody in law enforcement knew him. If you ever met him, you’d never forget him. He worked 24/7 and was an outstanding sheriff.”

Gov. Kay Ivey said in a release Saturday night:

“I’m 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 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 Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is handling the investigation. At the time of this report, Johnson was being held in Elmore County.

“Details as to how he fled the scene and reappeared at the scene, all that’s going to be investigated,” said Sgt. Jarrett.

Johnson, reportedly the son of a Deputy Sheriff from the next county over, was arrested on charges of possessing brass knuckles and being a minor in possession of alcohol in August. However, the charges were dismissed, reported.


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