Funeral plans set for slain Sheriff ‘Big John’ Williams

Viewer video shows motorcade taking Sheriff Williams' body to funeral home

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Funeral details are now set for slain Lowndes County Sheriff John “Big John” Williams, according to Montgomery County Chief Deputy Kevin Murphy.

A visitation and funeral will be held at Garrett Coliseum on Coliseum Boulevard in Montgomery on Monday, Dec 2, Murphy said. Visitation will begin at 8 a.m. and the funeral will follow at 11 a.m. Sheriff Williams will be laid to rest in the cemetery of Shiloh Primitive Baptist in Hayneville.

Gov. Kay Ivey has order flags be flown at half-staff on the day of the sheriff’s interment.

A large procession of law enforcement vehicles escorted the white hearse containing Williams’ body to a funeral home Monday morning. A WSFA 12 News viewer shared video of the motorcade, with at least two dozen vehicles, as it passed near Auburn University Montgomery following its departure from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences.

Lowndes County Sheriff John "Big John" Williams.
Lowndes County Sheriff John "Big John" Williams. (Source: Lowndes County Sheriff's Office)

Sheriff Williams’ body was taken to Bell Funeral Home in Hayneville, located not far from the scene of Saturday night’s fatal shooting.

Lowndes County and law enforcement around the state are mourning the loss of one of their own.

[READ MORE: 2019 marks deadly year for Alabama law enforcement]

State authorities say the sheriff was involved in an incident around 8 p.m. Saturday at the QV gas station in Hayneville, though officials have not released specific information from the shooting.

The Elmore County Sheriff’s Office confirms the suspect in the case, 18-year-old William Chase Johnson, is being held in its jail, located about 45 miles northeast of Lowndes County.

Johnson was arrested after a four-hour manhunt when he returned to the scene of the crime carrying a firearm. The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office also confirms Johnson is the son of a Montgomery County sheriff’s deputy.

Kevin Murphy knew Sheriff Williams well and recalled a good man who was well respected by his colleagues and family.

“He so kind. He would do anything for you. You know, sometimes you just call me just check on me,” Murphy said. “I admired him. He was a husband, and a father and a grandfather. I remember seeing him holding his grandson just a few years ago, and Little Guy look so much like Big John.”

The MCSO is supporting the LCSO with patrols, jail and dispatch assistance during the grieving process. “We’re going to be there for them,” Murphy said.

The death of the beloved sheriff has rocked the community and has shaken many law enforcement officers around Alabama.

“He was an outstanding sheriff and a great friend to many, to many people," said ALEA State Trooper Sgt. Steve Jarrett. “And I’m sure the people here in Lowndes County will be deeply saddened.”

“I think anybody and everybody that lived in Lowndes county was out here at Court Square. This whole area was full of people that were concerned and it was, when you see that kind of respect for the sheriff, that lets you know that he was loved here," added Montgomery County Sheriff Derrick Cunningham. "He was liked here, and the community, they just came together.”

A prayer vigil was held Sunday night with more than 100 in attendance. Another vigil is set for Monday night at Hayneville Midde School’s gym at 6 p.m.

Following the sheriff’s death, Lowndes County Commission Chairman Carnell McApline says the law dictates the county coroner, Terrell Means, becomes the acting-sheriff until Gov. Kay Ivey can appoint someone to the position. Gov. Ivey’s office said no search will be conducted for a replacement this week.

Sheriff Williams will be laid to rest on Monday, though specific details regarding his funeral were not immediately available.

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