Gunman kills deputy, steals cruiser, robs convenience store, still at large – First killing of law enforcement officer in Maine in 29 years

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)

By MARINA VILLENEUVE,  Associated Press  NORRIDGEWOCK, Maine (AP) 04/25 — A gunman in Maine killed a sheriff’s deputy, stole his cruiser and robbed a convenience store early Wednesday, triggering an intensive manhunt in a heavily wooded rural town, officials said.

Somerset County Cpl. Eugene Cole was killed around 1:45 a.m. on U.S. Route 2 in Norridgewock, about 60 miles  west of Bangor, state police said. His cruiser was driven to a Cumberland Farms store, which was robbed.

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 )

 

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 remained on the loose after abandoning the stolen cruiser, state police said.

“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.”

Several Somerset County officers arrived on scene within 10 minutes after the robbery, and the cruiser was found abandoned shortly after 5 a.m. in another part of the town. It wasn’t known if the man was driving another vehicle.

Police said Williams is 5-foot-6, 120 pounds with blue eyes and brown hair in a ponytail.

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 records didn’t indicate a lengthy criminal record. But Williams had been arrested last month in Haverill, Massachusetts, for carrying a firearm without a license and possession of a large-capacity firearm, officials said. He was due to return to court Wednesday in Massachusetts.

Residents of the town of about 3,500 people were urged to be vigilant. There are heavy woods in the area.

“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.

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.

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)

 

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)

 

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.

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.”

___

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

https://www.apnews.com/017c40f5d60249308f245b31dbd05ff8/Police:-Man-killed-deputy,-stole-his-car-and-robbed-store

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted in: Attacks on Police, Crime & Criminals, Firearms, Fugitives, Homicide, Line-of-Duty Deaths, Police, Police Officers Shot, Prohibited Person/Felon in Possession, Public Safety, Robbery, Shootings, Victims of Crime

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