Police: Maine man killed deputy, stole his car and robbed store

This 2007 photo shows Somerset County Cpl. Sheriff Eugene Cole , who was killed early Wednesday, April 25, 2018, in Norridgewock, Maine. A search is underway for a suspect who stole the deputy's cruiser and robbed a convenience store afterward. (Jeff Pouland/The Central Maine Morning Sentinel via AP)
This 2007 photo shows Somerset County Cpl. Sheriff Eugene Cole , who was killed early Wednesday, April 25, 2018, in Norridgewock, Maine. A search is underway for a suspect who stole the deputy's cruiser and robbed a convenience store afterward. (Jeff Pouland/The Central Maine Morning Sentinel via AP)

NORRIDGEWOCK, Maine (AP) — A man scheduled to appear in court to face gun charges Wednesday killed a sheriff's deputy in Maine, stole his cruiser and robbed a convenience store, officials said.

The fatal shooting of Somerset County Cpl. Eugene Cole around 1:45 a.m. on U.S. Route 2 in Norridgewock triggered an intensive manhunt for the shooter in and around the heavily wooded rural town about 60 miles west of Bangor.

Aircraft and armored vehicles were seen around Norridgewock, and schools were locked down as federal, state and local law enforcement officials searched for 29-year-old John Williams, of Madison, Maine, who police said abandoned the cruiser after robbing the store.

"Many times we're able to say that there is not an ongoing threat, but that's not the case today," said State Police Lt. Col. John Cote. "There certainly is an ongoing public threat. He's considered armed and dangerous."

Cole's death is believed to be the first killing of a law enforcement officer in Maine in nearly 30 years. The last time an officer was killed in the line of duty was in 1989, according to the Maine Department of Public Safety.

On Wednesday afternoon, police escorted Cole's body to the state medical examiner's office in Augusta. Police at intersections along the way paid tribute as the vehicle carrying Cole's body passed by.

Police said Williams is 5-foot-6, 120 pounds with blue eyes and brown hair in a ponytail. Maine records didn't indicate a lengthy criminal record, but Williams was arrested last month in Haverhill, Massachusetts, and charged with improper storage and carrying a firearm without a license.

He was found with a 9mm handgun and a 16-round magazine after he told the police that he dozed off while driving on Route 495 and drove into a ditch. An officer wrote in the report that Williams appeared tired and impaired, but denied having consumed any alcohol or illegal drugs.

Police also found containers with a powder residue, a pocket knife, razor blade and short drinking straw. The report noted that razor blades and straws are commonly used when snorting lines of narcotics. Williams was not charged with any drug offenses.

A judge gave Williams $7,500 bail, which was lowered by a Superior Court judge to $5,000. He posted bail on March 31 and was due to return to court Wednesday for a probable cause hearing.

Residents in Norridgewock, a town of about 3,500 huddled in the rain, as state police cruisers and federal agents investigated a blue-grey home believed to where Williams lived with his girlfriend.

"We're a little on edge. It's unnerving knowing there's a guy running around out there," said Tasha Raymond, who was home with her two children.

Gov. Paul LePage expressed his "deepest condolences" to Cole's family in a tweet. "If you live in Somerset County and the surrounding area, please cooperate with law enforcement and stay safe," the Republican governor said. LePage also directed all U.S and state flags to be flown at half-staff for at least three days.

Cole has a son who also is a Somerset County deputy. Sheriff Dale Lancaster called Cole, a 13-year veteran of the department, an "outstanding employee, one of the finest deputies."

A relative described Cole as a lover of music who was well-known throughout the community for his generous and peaceful ways.

"He was one of the most caring and considerate people that I had the pleasure to know," said Madison resident Scott Bishop, whose mother had been married to Cole's brother.

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Associated Press writers David Sharp in Portland, Maine; Kathy McCormack in Concord, New Hampshire; and Alanna Durkin Richer in Boston contributed to this report.

 

 

This undated identification photo released by the Maine State Police shows John Williams of Madison, Maine, who is being sought in connection with the shooting of a Somerset County sheriff's deputy very early Wednesday morning, April 25, 2018, in Norridgewock, Maine. Deputy Eugene Cole was killed while responding to a reported robbery. Police said Cole had been a deputy for 13 years and has a son. (Maine State Police via AP)
This undated identification photo released by the Maine State Police shows John Williams of Madison, Maine, who is being sought in connection with the shooting of a Somerset County sheriff's deputy very early Wednesday morning, April 25, 2018, in Norridgewock, Maine. Deputy Eugene Cole was killed while responding to a reported robbery. Police said Cole had been a deputy for 13 years and has a son. (Maine State Police via AP)
Maine State trooper William Plourde checks a vehicle at the town line of Oakland and Fairfield on Wednesday, April 25, 2018, after Somerset County Sheriff's Deputy Eugene Cole was killed overnight in nearby Norridgewock, Maine. A Maine man killed the sheriff's deputy, stole his cruiser and robbed a convenience store early Wednesday, officials said. (Michael G. Seamans/The Central Maine Morning Sentinel via AP)
Maine State trooper William Plourde checks a vehicle at the town line of Oakland and Fairfield on Wednesday, April 25, 2018, after Somerset County Sheriff's Deputy Eugene Cole was killed overnight in nearby Norridgewock, Maine. A Maine man killed the sheriff's deputy, stole his cruiser and robbed a convenience store early Wednesday, officials said. (Michael G. Seamans/The Central Maine Morning Sentinel via AP)
Officers work the scene of a shooting at a Cumberland Farms convenience store in Norridgewock, Maine, Wednesday, April 25, 2018. A Maine man killed a sheriff's deputy, stole his cruiser and robbed the convenience store early Wednesday, triggering an intensive manhunt in the rural town in central Maine. (Lexie O'Connor/WGME via AP )
Officers work the scene of a shooting at a Cumberland Farms convenience store in Norridgewock, Maine, Wednesday, April 25, 2018. A Maine man killed a sheriff's deputy, stole his cruiser and robbed the convenience store early Wednesday, triggering an intensive manhunt in the rural town in central Maine. (Lexie O'Connor/WGME via AP )
Police spread out to search on North Street in Skowhegan, Maine, on Wednesday, April 25, 2018, after Somerset County Sheriff's Deputy Eugene Cole was killed overnight in nearby Norridgewock, Maine. A Maine man killed the sheriff's deputy, stole his cruiser and robbed a convenience store early Wednesday, officials said. (David Leaming/The Central Maine Morning Sentinel via AP)
Police spread out to search on North Street in Skowhegan, Maine, on Wednesday, April 25, 2018, after Somerset County Sheriff's Deputy Eugene Cole was killed overnight in nearby Norridgewock, Maine. A Maine man killed the sheriff's deputy, stole his cruiser and robbed a convenience store early Wednesday, officials said. (David Leaming/The Central Maine Morning Sentinel via AP)
Police officers stand along U.S. Route 2 on Wednesday, April 25, 2018, in Norridgewock, Maine, after Somerset County Sheriff's Deputy Eugene Cole was killed there overnight. A Maine man killed the sheriff's deputy, stole his cruiser and robbed a convenience store early Wednesday, officials said. (David Leaming/The Central Maine Morning Sentinel via AP)
Police officers stand along U.S. Route 2 on Wednesday, April 25, 2018, in Norridgewock, Maine, after Somerset County Sheriff's Deputy Eugene Cole was killed there overnight. A Maine man killed the sheriff's deputy, stole his cruiser and robbed a convenience store early Wednesday, officials said. (David Leaming/The Central Maine Morning Sentinel via AP)
Somerset County Sheriff Dale Lancaster, center, speaks with the media, Wednesday, April 25, 2018, in Norridgewock, Maine, after deputy Eugene Cole was killed overnight. Accompanying Lancaster are, from left, John Cote of Maine State Police, Franklin Sheriff Scott Nichols, Lancaster, Penobscot Sheriff Troy Morton an Kennebec Sheriff Ken Mason. (David Leaming//The Central Maine Morning Sentinel via AP)
Somerset County Sheriff Dale Lancaster, center, speaks with the media, Wednesday, April 25, 2018, in Norridgewock, Maine, after deputy Eugene Cole was killed overnight. Accompanying Lancaster are, from left, John Cote of Maine State Police, Franklin Sheriff Scott Nichols, Lancaster, Penobscot Sheriff Troy Morton an Kennebec Sheriff Ken Mason. (David Leaming//The Central Maine Morning Sentinel via AP)
A Maine State Police van transports the body of slain Somerset Sheriff's Deputy Eugene Cole from the scene, Wednesday, April 25, 2018, who was shot to death overnight in Norridgewock, Maine. The suspect stole the deputy's cruiser and robbed a convenience store. (David Leaming/The Central Maine Morning Sentinel via AP)
A Maine State Police van transports the body of slain Somerset Sheriff's Deputy Eugene Cole from the scene, Wednesday, April 25, 2018, who was shot to death overnight in Norridgewock, Maine. The suspect stole the deputy's cruiser and robbed a convenience store. (David Leaming/The Central Maine Morning Sentinel via AP)

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