William Chase Johnson taken into custody

Murder suspect William Chase Johnson taken into custody. (Photo: Monroe County Sheriff's Office)

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. (WALA) -- The owner of the Hayneville gas station where Lowndes County Sheriff John Williams was shot and killed says the sheriff pulled into the parking lot, where a crowd had gathered, to ask someone to turn down loud music.

"They had some type of bonfire, young kids, and when that was over they started congregating on the parking lot with loud music," QV gas station owner, Stewart Harrell, told FOX10 News. "And that’s when [Sheriff Williams] pulled in and asked them to cut the music and just, 'I’d like for you to disperse,' after that I don’t know what happened."

A similar series of events was reported by the Montgomery Advertiser, which reported Sheriff Williams was shot and killed after he asked someone in a pickup to turn down loud music.

The newspaper cited law enforcement sources and an eyewitness in its report.

Sheriff Williams was called to a gas station in Hayneville around 8 p.m. Saturday after the owner of the store reported a large group gathered in the parking lot, the report said. The witness told the Montgomery Advertiser that the sheriff approached a pickup truck that was playing loud music. The witness said that a teenager shot Williams in the head when he asked him why the music was so loud.

John "Big John" Williams

Lowndes County Sheriff John "Big John" Williams

Investigators identified the gunman as 18-year-old William Chase Johnson.

Harrell, who says he was lifelong friends with Sheriff Williams, told FOX10 News he had just spoken to the sheriff one day before his death, when Williams stopped by the gas station to drop off calendars. 

"We talked for about 15 minutes and the last thing he told me was, 'If I can help you in any way, just call on us,'" Harrell said, reflecting on his friend. "He didn't know a stranger, always identified himself as 'Hey I'm Big John, Sheriff of Lowndes County.' I just can't stress enough how sad everybody is."

According to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, Johnson fled the scene after the shooting but returned to the gas station about three hours later and surrendered.

Johnson is charged with murder. He's being held in the Elmore County Jail without bond.

Sheriff murder scene

(Photo: Monroe County Sheriff's Office)

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