September 19, 2019
State Latest News | Larry Lord | Bangor Metro | 'Mount' Katahdin | Today's Paper

‘Resolve that’s hard to describe’ fuels search for suspect in deputy’s shooting

Authorities searched for a third day Friday for the 29-year-old suspect in the shooting death of Somerset County Sheriff’s Deputy Cpl. Eugene Cole.

Somerset County Sheriff Dale Lancaster did not say Friday why officers are focusing on Martin Stream Road in Norridgewock specifically, but said in an evening news conference that police have received “many leads in which our ground and detective units have been following up on.”

Also on Friday, the visitation and funeral for Cole was set for next weekend. The visitation will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday, May 6, at the Skowhegan Armory. The funeral is scheduled for noon the following day, Monday, May 7, at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

Police say John D. Williams shot and killed Cole early Wednesday morning, and have offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.

[What we know about the shooting death of Cpl. Eugene Cole and the manhunt for John D. Williams]

Since the shooting some 200 law enforcement officers have made their presence felt in the Norridgewock area. Tributes to Cole have sprung up across the region, with signs honoring the fallen deputy and showing support for the law enforcement community.

On Friday, flowers, a flag, artwork and a portrait of Cole decorated a construction crane at the top of Upper Main Street in Norridgewock, just yards from where the slain deputy’s body was found.

At a news conference Friday morning, officers said they heard Williams might be interested in contacting them, Lancaster said.

“It has come to our attention that during this investigation, he might want to reach out and speak to us. I would like him to understand that we are here. We are willing to listen,” he said. “Please reach out to us, and let’s start that communication.”

Officers have been in touch with Williams’ family and have a “good handle” on his activities in the 24 hours preceding his alleged shooting of Cole early Wednesday morning, Maine State Police Lt. Col. John Cote said Friday morning.

Cote asked for anyone who communicated with Williams in any capacity after 2:30 p.m. Wednesday to contact police.

“Those types of contacts right now are critically important to us,” he said.

Overnight on Thursday, officers set up roadblocks in the Norridgewock area and handed out wanted posters. Officers continued their search throughout the day Friday by going door to door and speaking with residents, Lancaster said.

[Woman who found body of slain deputy helped raise his suspected killer]

Williams, of Madison, is believed to have shot and killed Cole early Wednesday morning. He then allegedly drove Cole’s police cruiser to rob the Cumberland Farms convenience store in Norridgewock, before dumping the car on a remote road, where police located it around 5 a.m.

Kimberley Sirois found Cole’s body on her lawn at 16 Mercer Road in Norridgewock around 7:15 a.m.

Area schools remained open on Friday but with heightened security.

Officers are tired but community support has been overwhelming, Lancaster and Cote said.

“We’ve been receiving literally truckloads of food and emotional support. Again, it’s a real testament to how well Cpl. Cole was respected in the community,” he said.

The community support “has allowed us to focus our energies, keep our officers hydrated and fed to continue our mission,” Cote continued.

[Slain officer remembered as gentleman and skilled negotiator]

While local law enforcement focuses on apprehending Williams, other police agencies from across the state have stepped in to shoulder the burden of their day-to-day service calls.

“A lot of focus goes into this investigation, but people forget that all the normal calls for service and things that keep the police busy go on outside of this investigation,” Cote said. “We have other agencies stepping in, helping us to be able to stay here, concentrate and focus.”

Police officers are also taking turns posting outside the Smart & Edwards Funeral Home in Skowhegan, where Cole’s body is being held.

“We don’t want him to be alone, so we have details around the clock,” Sagadahoc County Sheriff Joel Merry said.

“There’s a resolve [to find Williams] that’s hard to describe,” he said.

— BDN writer Beth Brogan contributed to this report.

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