Dozens of law enforcement agencies scoured Norridgewock and the surrounding area Wednesday, in search of the 29-year-old man they believe shot and killed a Somerset County sheriff’s deputy during the early morning hours.
State and federal agencies embarked on a nationwide manhunt for John D. Williams of Madison, who is believed to have shot Somerset County Sheriff’s Deputy Cpl. Eugene Cole, 61, in Norridgewock sometime before 2 a.m.
Cole is the first Maine officer in nearly 30 years to be killed by gunfire while on duty.
Williams is described as 5 feet 6 inches tall, 120 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes. He is considered “armed and dangerous,” Somerset County Sheriff Dale Lancaster said.
With Williams still at large, the presence of so many officers from local state and federal law enforcement agencies has turned an otherwise quiet part of the state into a frenzy of activity and concern.
A command post was set up at the Norridgewock Fire Department station on Upper Main Street — what an officer with the U.S. Marshal’s office in Portland called “the nucleus of the cell” for manhunt operations.
Despite the heavy police presence, Cassie Allen, who awoke to the sound of sirens racing past her Waterville Road home at 3:30 a.m., said the idea of an armed killer on the loose left her unsettled.
“Today has been chaotic. The town and community are in a state of shock,” she said. “Usually in this town, a lot doesn’t happen here.”
The 34-year-old — who said that Cole was her neighbor two doors down on Waterville Road in Norridgewock — said she dreaded going home because she’s afraid to be alone with just her mother.
Allen said she’s also concerned for her family in Madison, where law enforcement officers have been posted outside Williams’ last known residence on Jones Street since Wednesday morning, where they remained through the afternoon, though they would not confirm whether Williams was inside.
Police were releasing few details about the shooting Wednesday, but Lancaster confirmed that Cole was allegedly shot by Williams before 2 a.m. Williams then stole Cole’s marked police cruiser, drove to the Cumberland Farms convenience store at the intersection of U.S. Route 2 and Mechanic Street in Norridgewock and robbed the store, before again fleeing in the cruiser, said Lancaster.