Norridgewock, Maine – Somerset County Corporal Eugene Cole was murdered Wednesday morning after responding to a robbery.
John Williams, 29, is currently the subject of a nationwide manhunt, after he allegedly shot and killed Somerset County Corporal Eugene Cole between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. in Skowhegan, the North Andover Patch reported.
Williams fled in the slain officer’s patrol vehicle, which was later found abandoned in Norridgewock at approximately 5 a.m.
Williams was suspected of robbing a Cumberland Farms store. Dashcam footage from Cpl. Cole’s patrol vehicle captured images of Williams as he entered and exited the store.
The suspect had been behind bars on Mar. 22, after Massachusetts State Police spotted two vehicles parked in the I-495 breakdown lane.
Williams, whose vehicle had gone off of the roadway, told the officers he had fallen asleep while he was driving, but denied having consumed illegal drugs or alcohol, KTUU reported.
He was found in possession of a 9mm handgun, as well as a 16-round magazine.
Investigators also located containers with a powder residue, as well as a short straw and a razor blade – all of which were items commonly used to ingest narcotics.
Williams was charged with improper storage of a firearm, possession/carrying a firearm without a license, possession of a large capacity feeding device, possession of ammunition without a firearms identification card, marked lanes violation, and negligent operation of a motor vehicle, the North Andover Patch reported.
Prosecutors asked the court to hold him on $10,000 bond, but Judge Michael Patten set his bail at just $7,500.
During a bail review hearing five days later, Judge Timothy Feeley lowered Williams’ bond further, to just $5,000, despite the court’s notation that Williams did not have ties to the community, according to court documents.
Jason Law posted a copy of the bail documents which state, “The court has not considered the defendant’s alleged dangerousness in setting the amount of bail.”
On Mar. 31, Williams made bail, and was released from custody. His probable cause hearing for the earlier offenses was scheduled for Wednesday morning – the same morning that Cpl. Cole was murdered.
Canaan Fire Chief Troy Bowden told Bangor Daily News that Spl. Cole was known for his ability to verbally de-escalate.
“For a guy that would go into a hostile situation and be as small a man as he was, he could talk down the giant that was standing there,” Fire Chief Bowden said. “He could disarm the whole situation if he had that chance to talk, to get the conversation going.”
Scott Bishop told Bangor Daily News that Cpl. Cole was a skilled guitarist who used to play in a band called Borderline Express.
Cpl. Cole was a 13-year veteran with the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office and leaves behind a wife a four children.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Somerset County Sheriff’s Office Cpl.Cole, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Corporal Eugene Cole, your life mattered.