Another law enforcement official is down. A man of integrity. A man who loved to laugh. A mediator. A collaborator. All descriptions provided by those who knew him.
“Just all of those words that you think a Superman would be,” according to a local news outlet.
For people in Newton and Rockdale Counties, that person is Almond Turner.
The death of the former assistant police chief and beloved fixture in his community has left them hurting.
“We’re in a state of shock. This is the man who kept us safe,” another mourner said.
Turner was well-known, loved and respected in his community, as a former assistant police chief, deacon and school board member.
Police said Turner’s nephew used an AK-47 to open fire Saturday at a family event in Meridan, Mississippi, firing five shots and killing Turner. Christopher Denson was arrested for Turner’s death, after a search.
“It’s not fair,” said Springfield Baptist Church’s Pastor Eric Lee. “For more than 45 years in law enforcement, to die of gun violence at a family gathering.”
Lee walked into Turner’s office Sunday, hoping to see his friend sitting there, watching the security cameras as he’d done for three years. But the chair has since become a bittersweet shrine to Turner, who last month helped facilitate the church’s gun buy-back program.
“To go from getting guns of the street and advocating to end family violence – to being a victim of family violence is a bit much to stomach,” Lee said.
At the Newton County Board of Education, there’s another empty chair. Turner’s served there for over 20 years.
Even though the room is empty, for Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey and Chairman of the Board, Shakila Henderson-Baker, his spirit still fills the space.
“His strength and leadership will guide us through these dark days that we’re facing,” Fuhrey said.
Turner was instrumental in getting security cameras installed in schools and on buses throughout the county. They call Turner the safety guy – a man who kept watch on everyone. Even keeping watch during this interview – his picture visible right behind the shoulders of those school board members.
“Last week alone, I talked to him Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and I will just miss all of those things,” Henderson-Baker recalled. “He is a true man of his word.”
At Covington Police headquarters, Capt. Ken Malcom is re-watching the retirement video he put together for Turner back in 2016. Turner helped hire him.
“I was a 19-year-old kid who knew nothing about law enforcement, and he was my mentor and he taught me so much about not only the job, but how to be a good person and treat people,” Malcom said.
Turner’s family called Malcom after he was killed. The captain drove to Mississippi to bring them back to Georgia. Pastor Lee said they hope to finalize a home going service for Turner after Thanksgiving
Meanwhile, Malcom said Turner’s loss leaves a gaping hole in the community.
“Not only did we lose a very, very good man, we lost history when someone took his life yesterday,” he said, choking up over the thought.
Less than 150 miles away and 24 hours earlier, Alabama authorities identified the suspected gunman as 18-year-old William Chase Johnson.
The murder comes only a day after another officer was murdered about 150 miles away in Montgomery, Alabama.
In that murder, in a stunning turn of events, we’ve now learned that the alleged gunman is the son of an officer.
While there are few details about the suspect, he also has a criminal history, with his most recent arrest in August for possession of brass knuckles and minor in possession of alcohol.
Multiple sources are claiming the same bit of information, but there is little else on Johnson, which agency one of his parents may be with, or what other run-ins he may have had with law enforcement.
Here’s the back story.
Alabama authorities identified the suspected gunman as 18-year-old William Chase Johnson.
The news comes after initial reports confirmed the shooting at a gas station in the Lowndes County seat of Hayneville, around 20 miles (32 kilometers) southwest of Montgomery, according to ABC 7.
During the interaction between Johnson and Sheriff John “Big John” Williams, Johnson allegedly shot the lawman at a QV gas station.
Police said after the sheriff was fatally shot by the teen, he then stole the sheriff’s patrol car and took off running.
It happened around 8:15 p.m. local time.
A Blue Alert was issued to try and bring the cop killer to justice, but police say the manhunt for Johnson ended just after midnight when he reportedly walked back to the site of the initial shooting, still armed with a handgun, and turned himself over to authorities.
“Details as to how he fled the scene and then reappeared at the scene, all that’s going to be investigated,” said Sgt. Steve Jarrett, according to WSFA-TV.
Tonight, Alabama mourns the loss of Lowndes County Sheriff “Big John” Williams, who was killed in the line of duty. Sheriff Williams dedicated over 40 years of his life to public safety, including 19 years as Sheriff. Please pray for his family and fellow officers. #ThinBlueLine pic.twitter.com/5o8EytjjVz
— AG Steve Marshall (@AGSteveMarshall) November 24, 2019
Social media quickly came alive with memorials for the fallen sheriff.
#BREAKING: Lowndes County Sheriff “Big John” Williams shot and killed while responding to crime scene, according to Montgomery County Sheriff. WSFA has a crew on scene. More on-air and online when available. @wsfa12news pic.twitter.com/LQuU260kVC
— Mark Bullock (@markb_wsfa) November 24, 2019
“I’m saddened to hear about Sheriff Big John Williams, who was tragically killed this evening in the line of duty. Through his service to our country in the United States Marine Corps and his many years working in law enforcement, he dedicated his life to keeping other people safe,” Gov. Kay Ivey said in a release Saturday night.
I’m saddened to hear about Sheriff Big John Williams, who was tragically killed this evening in the line of duty. Through his service to our country in the @USMC and his many years working in law enforcement, he dedicated his life to keeping other people safe. (1/2) #alpolitics
— Governor Kay Ivey (@GovernorKayIvey) November 24, 2019
She said he will not be forgotten.
“He will be remembered as a consummate professional and pillar of his community. I offer my prayers and deepest sympathies to his family and to the men and women of the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department.”
He will be remembered as a consummate professional and pillar of his community. I offer my prayers and deepest sympathies to his family and to the men and women of the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department. (2/2) #alpolitics
— Governor Kay Ivey (@GovernorKayIvey) November 24, 2019
Local media outlets report that Williams was born and raised in Lowndes County and served his country in the Marine Corps.
He graduated from Calhoun High School in 1976, and was known as “Big John” because of his height.
According to the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office website, he:
“Always wanted to make a difference in his community and felt there was no better way to help his community than to protect and serve them in law enforcement.”
He started volunteering as a reserve deputy in 1978. For three years in the 1980s he was in the Hayneville Police Department. Then he took a position full-time with the sheriff’s office.
In 1990, he was appointed to chief deputy and served in this capacity until leaving the department in 2009… then ran for sheriff in 2010. He’s served in that role since he won.
In the meantime, police in Georgia have made a second arrest in connection with the fatal shooting of Richmond County Sheriff’s Investigator Cecil Ridley.
Ridley was tragically gunned down by an armed suspect on Tuesday, November 19 while on patrol for “gun violence”.
Richmond County authorities reported that 18-year-old Deonquez Reid was taken into custody on Friday for his alleged role in the death of the law enforcement official.
Reports said that officials with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation made the arrest at the Augusta Mart located at 1713 MLK Jr. Blvd, according to FOX 5 Atlanta.
Investigator Ridley was shot and killed at 12th Street and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard in Augusta, according to sheriff’s office Sgt. William McCarty.
We're following the latest developments in the shooting death of @RCSOGA narcotics investigator Cecil Ridley (left). He was killed Tuesday night in the line of duty. This is a photo of happier times when Sheriff Richard Roundtree presented a public service award to Ridley. #RIP pic.twitter.com/ACcJOufg1F
— Monique Williams (@MoniqueWRDW) November 20, 2019
He was working a beat that was part of a new “proactive patrol to curb gun violence” said McCarty. That initiative had just started last week.
Rest In Peace: Investigator Cecil Ridley. Richmond County Sheriff's Office, Georgia. End of Watch Tuesday November 19, 2019. @RCSOGA, @GBI_GA, @PoliceOne,#BlueLivesMatter,@ODMP,#OfficerDown,#lodd pic.twitter.com/WslmS8Ci0Q
— R Cook (@retiredNCSHP) November 20, 2019
McCarty confirmed that during Ridley’s patrol, he encountered the suspect inside of a store when the man allegedly turned and drew a weapon, firing multiple times at Ridley.
Ridley was killed by the hail of gunfire, and police say that another officer inside the building was able to return fire. The suspect managed to escape from the store and head outside. But the GBI says that when he got outside, he was met by two additional uniformed officers.
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He pulled his gun and pointed them at the officers, but they managed to fire first and put him down.
The suspect, identified as 24-year-old Alvin Theodore Hester Jr., was struck at least once by police fire. He was rushed to Augusta University Medical Center.
Police say that his condition has improved and he now faces charges of murder, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
— Montana?Agent Applebutt (@AgentApplebutt2) November 22, 2019
The GBI says that Reid, while not directly responsible for the veteran officer’s death, has been arrested and charged with tampering with evidence for his alleged role in the incident.
He was taken into custody and booked into the Richmond County Jail.
So far in 2019, Georgia has lost seven officers.
Ridley’s death marks the the 108th officer killed in the line of duty this year.
He was only 51-years-old and lived in Augusta. According to the department, he received an award in 2018 for five years of service.
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