No bond for suspect in Sheriff ‘Big John’ Williams killing


Reprinted from the Montgomery Advertiser

William Johnson, suspect in fatal shooting of Lowndes County Sheriff John Williams, is escorted out of the Lowndes County Courthouse in Hayneville, Ala., on Monday, November 25, 2019. (Photo: Mickey Welsh / Advertiser)

HAYNEVILLE — The man charged with murder in the shooting death of Lowndes County Sheriff “Big John” Williams appeared in court Monday morning.

William Chase Johnson, 18, arrived escorted by four state troopers. He was wearing black and white striped jail garb and was restrained in handcuffs and ankle chains. He appeared before Crenshaw County Circle Judge Tom Sport

The whole process took less than five minutes. Sport told him of the charge against him; the murder of Lowndes County Sheriff John Williams.

Johnson said he understood the charge. Johnson also told the judge he had not decided if he was going to hire an attorney or need to have one appointed. Sport then set a no bond in the case.

Usually Lowndes County District Judge Adrian Johnson handles first appearances. Johnson recused himself citing his close personal relationship with Williams.

The hearing took place at the Lowndes County Courthouse, just across the street from the QV convenience store where Williams was killed Saturday night about 8:15 p.m.

 Details of the shooting remain unclear, but witnesses and police authorities say Johnson was driving a pickup truck that was parked in front of the store.

Williams went up the the truck to ask why the music was so loud and Johnson allegedly shot him once in the head. Johnson ran from the scene, only to walk up to the crime scene some four hours later, pistol in hand, after an hour’s long manhunt. He was taken into custody without incident.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is investigating the shooting. The agency hasn’t commented on if Williams was in uniform at the time or if he was driving a marked or unmarked vehicle.

His height gave the sheriff his nickname. Williams was a beloved lawman serving his home county for more than 40 years. He started out in the Hayneville Police Department before going to the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office as a deputy. He worked his way up to chief deputy and was elected sheriff in 2010.