Suspect in killing of Maine sheriff's deputy now in custody

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NORRIDGEWOCK, Maine (AP) — A man accused of killing a sheriff's deputy was arrested Saturday outside a remote cabin, ending an intense manhunt in its fourth day in the woods of central Maine.

A law enforcement team used the slain deputy's handcuffs to arrest 29-year-old John Williams in a symbolic gesture, Sheriff Dale Lancaster said.

"We can now focus on the important task of respectfully laying our fallen brother to rest. Tonight, the citizens of Somerset County can sleep well and knowing that a dangerous man has been taken off the streets," the sheriff said.

Williams was wanted in the fatal shooting of Cpl. Eugene Cole early Wednesday after the two had an encounter on a darkened road in Norridgewock.

Cole became the first the first law enforcement officer to be killed in the line of duty in nearly 30 years in Maine.

Shirtless and shoeless, Williams appeared to be exhausted when he was led out of the woods Saturday. Officers put him into the back seat of an unmarked state police vehicle and detectives whisked him away.

"I'm just glad it ended peacefully, and no one else got hurt," said Tasha Raymond, whose kids have been forced to play indoors for the past four days.

The arrest brought some closure to the deputy's family and relief to residents who've been "on edge," said Larry Tilton, a friend of Cole's.

The community of 3,500 had been nervous since scores of police officers poured into the region during the manhunt. Helicopters, cruisers and tactical vehicles prowled the region.

Officials said the 29-year-old Madison man also stole Cole's cruiser and robbed a convenience store. (David Leaming/Waterville Morning Sentinel via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Officials said the 29-year-old Madison man also stole Cole's cruiser and robbed a convenience store. (David Leaming/Waterville Morning Sentinel via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

On Saturday, about 150 officers were searching in a wooded area where police believe Williams was cornered when a team including FBI, game wardens and local police located him outside the cabin.

He offered "limited resistance" when being arrested and taken to the Waterville Police Department for questioning, police said. He's expected to make his initial court appearance in the next few days.

Before the arrest, the wife of the slain deputy had implored his killer Saturday to turn himself in, or at least reach out to police.

Sheryl Cole promised to Williams that he'd be treated the way her late husband would've treated him: "with dignity and respect."

It's unclear what preceded the shooting.

But Cole, 62, had been involved in the arrest of Williams' girlfriend several days earlier, and Williams was worried about being arrested himself for failing to appear in court in Massachusetts on firearm charges the day of the shooting.

Williams was angry about his girlfriend's arrest and had told a friend that "as of tomorrow, I'll be a fugitive." The friend said Williams was acting paranoid and noticed he had body armor in one of his bags.

Cole was a 13-year veteran of the department who was known for being respectful and patient in his dealing with people. Lancaster described him an "outstanding employee, one of the finest deputies."

A funeral for the popular deputy is scheduled for May 7, at a civic center in Bangor.

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