NORRIDGEWOCK, Maine — The man accused of killing a Somerset County sheriff’s deputy on Wednesday admitted to shooting him before fleeing into the woods, a friend of the suspect said.
After John D. Williams, 29, allegedly shot Cpl. Eugene Cole — sometime after 1 a.m. — he called Christopher “Chris” Williams, 38, from inside the slain deputy’s stolen cruiser and told him, “Eugene Cole snuck up behind me and I turned around and shot him,” Chris told the Bangor Daily News on Friday. Elements of his story were contained in a court document released Monday.
The men share a last name but are not related. During an interview on Friday, Chris told the BDN they were introduced in the fall by John’s fiancee and Chris’ longtime friend, Kristina Pomerleau.
Leading up to the killing, John was high on a “six-day crack bender” and increasingly “bent out of shape” about his upcoming court date in Massachusetts for a pending gun charge, said Chris, a Skowhegan carpenter.
John was also frantically trying to come up with $5,000 to bail his fiancee out of county jail, after she was arrested over the previous weekend on drug charges, he said. Cole was one of the deputies who arrested her at a traffic stop, Chris said.
Chris said he and John spent all day on Tuesday, April 24, hanging out.
They parted ways when Chris dropped John off at a Skowhegan apartment complex, Indian Ridge, around 1 a.m., he said. John got into a blue car and drove off, and Chris headed home to sleep, he said.
Less than a half hour later, at 1:15 a.m., Chris said John called him and told him he’d shot Cole, but didn’t say why or where. An arrest affidavit released Monday revealed Chris told police John said he shot Cole in the head, although the document states Cole died of a gunshot wound of the neck that perforated his spinal cord.
When later interviewed by police, Chris told an investigator that he couldn’t recall if John told him that he snuck up on Cole, or Cole snuck up on him, according to the affidavit.
In the early hours of Wednesday morning, after John’s alleged confession and at John’s request, Chris said he drove in a state of disbelief to meet John at Martin Stream Road — before it turns from pavement to gravel — where John had ditched Cole’s stolen marked police cruiser.
Prior to that — but after he shot Cole — John drove the stolen cruiser to the Cumberland Farms convenience store on Route 2, and stole a pack of cigarettes, according to the affidavit. The butt end of a gun was tucked in his waistband, the clerk observed, the document said.
When Chris arrived at Martin Stream Road, John jumped out of the woods, got in Chris’ black Mustang, and ordered him to hand over the car, Chris said. He was armed with a 9mm handgun and had a rifle in his lap, and immediately dug around for his crack pipe and started smoking it, he said.
When Chris refused to give John his car, John turned the 9mm on him and repeated the order, he said.
“I’m like, ‘John, stop. You need to stop right now,’” Chris told him. “He said, ‘what do you want me to do, turn myself in?’”
He told John to get rid of his guns, but John wouldn’t, Chris said. About five minutes went by as the two argued, he said.
Chris eventually started to drive back toward Norridgewock, he said. After traveling less than a mile, John got out of the car, stole Chris’ phone, and with his guns in hand, ran toward the railroad tracks and into the woods, Chris said.
Cole’s body was found around 7:15 a.m. on Wednesday at 16 Mercer Road — the house where John formerly lived under the care of a woman who helped raised him. That woman, Kimberley Sirois, told the Bangor Daily News on Thursday that police also found a rifle and body armor stashed in her car that morning.
The slaying marked the first time a Maine law enforcement officer was killed in the line of duty in nearly 30 years, and launched a 4-day multi-agency manhunt that culminated in John’s Saturday capture in the Norridgewock woods, only a few miles from where Chris said he last saw him.
After John fled the car — sometime after 2 a.m. — Chris drove on and found a Fairfield police officer parked on Martin Stream Road.
“I stopped him and told him he was just down the road. I told him about the guns that he had — that it wasn’t just a handgun,” Chris said he told the cop. At that point, Chris believed police were looking for Cole, he said.
Within a half hour, “there must’ve been 20 cops showing up,” said Chris, who stayed with them for about 45 minutes until he was escorted to the Norridgewock fire station to be interviewed.
He returned home around 6 a.m., but was called back to Martin Stream Road by police after Cole’s body was found and police told Chris he was the “last witness to see a homicide suspect,” he said.
On Friday, eating two Boston Creme doughnuts at a Skowhegan Dunkin’ Donuts, Chris puzzled over what “snapped” in John in the hour after he dropped him off on Tuesday.
“John was a good guy,” Chris said, saying he had become fond of him in the months since John started dating his friend. “I think he finally snapped. He couldn’t see past the next obstacle in front of him.
On Tuesday — as he scrambled to come up with his fiancee’s bail — John reportedly told Chris he might “rob every drug dealer I know.”
“I could see him going out robbing stores to get money, but to kill the cop? I didn’t think he’d do that,” Chris said.
Confiding in Chris after he allegedly pulled the trigger, John sounded shocked, too.
“’I’m dead,’” Chris said John told him before fleeing into the woods. “‘My life’s over.’”
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