A days-long manhunt for the fugitive accused of gunning down a Maine deputy earlier this week concluded with an arrest Saturday afternoon.
John Williams, who had been on the run since early Wednesday morning, was captured alive after officers made contact with him shortly before 1 p.m., WGME reported.
He appeared gaunt and was shirtless as officers marched him out of a wooded area in Norridgewock in handcuffs.
Authorities believe the 29-year-old Madison resident shot and killed 62-year-old Eugene Cole, a corporal with the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office, before fleeing in the officer’s police cruiser and committing a theft at a nearby Cumberland Farms convenience store.
Cole, a 13-year veteran of the force, was found dead around 7 a.m. Wednesday morning, just hours after his vehicle was discovered abandoned off Martin Stream road around 5 a.m.
Williams was slated to appear in Haverhill District Court in Massachusetts later that day in the wake of his March 22 arrest on suspicion of having a gun without a license. Officers discovered the weapon in question after he drove his car into a ditch alongside interstate 495.
The alleged gunman had been out on bail when his deadly confrontation with Cole unfolded. Officers have not said what sparked the shooting or how they came to suspect Williams.
State and local law enforcement flooded the region this week, with a particularly massive police presence in Norridgewock, where the shooting occurred. Somerset County Sheriff Dale Lancaster said more than 200 officers, including several from Massachusetts, assisted in the search efforts.
The FBI on Thursday issued a reward of $ 20,000 for information leading to Williams’ capture.
News of Williams’ arrest came minutes after a press briefing during which Lancaster read a statement prepared by the fallen officer’s widow, Sheryl Cole.
“I urge Mr. Williams to turn himself in or at least reach out to law enforcement,” she pleaded. “Mr. Williams, be assured you’ll be treated the same way Corporal Cole would have treated you if you had given him the opportunity, with dignity and respect.
“We just want you to talk to someone. Even after all you have put us through, this all we are asking of you. Please talk to us.”
Cole’s death marks the first time a Maine police officer was shot and killed in the line of duty in nearly 30 years. His funeral is scheduled for noon Monday, May 7, with a public viewing slated for Sunday, May 6.