LOWNDES COUNTY, Ala. (WSFA) - One day after saying goodbye to a beloved sheriff, the signs still remain of what Big John Williams meant to the locals, signs saying “In memory of Big John Williams” at the foot of a wooden cross in town.
You can also find the subtle reminder on what happened to Big John more than a week ago in the QV convenience store parking lot. Part of a shredded crime tape is still tied to a stop sign near the store. Big John was shot dead. A suspect is in jail.
“It’s almost like a bad dream you’re gonna wake up out of," said longtime friend Verdell Howard.
As horrific as Big John’s death was, Howard says she is not without hope, the belief the community will find the strength and courage to move forward.
“It’s not going to be easy and we’re just going to have to seek help from the divine on how to do this. We know we have to move on," said Howard.
In terms of what’s next, Gov. Kay Ivey is expected to appoint a new sheriff. The governor’s office wouldn’t give a time frame but would only say “soon” to give Big John’s family and friends time to grieve.
”You don’t find very many men like that," said Howard.
Big John Williams loomed large in Lowndes County, not only in his physical stature but for what he stood for. That is the very thing folks like Howard will miss.
“We’ve lost something we’ll never be able to engage because Big John was a man of stature, respect and just an all around good guy," said Howard.
Big John is gone but not his presence. Talk to anyone around here and they will tell you the high sheriff will remain with them in spirit forever.
Whoever is appointed as the new sheriff will serve out the remainder of Big John’s term. The election is in 2022.