NORRIDGEWOCK, Maine (CBS/AP) — Authorities are offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of 29-year-old John Williams, who is wanted for the murder of a deputy.
A Maine county sheriff, meanwhile, is imploring Williams to turn himself in.
An intensive searched continued Thursday for Williams, who’s accused of shooting and killing Somerset County Cpl. Eugene Cole early Wednesday in Norridgewock, about 60 miles west of Bangor.
Somerset County Sheriff Dale Lancaster said at a news conference they have some belief that Williams is still in the area. He said officers have been assigned to local schools as a precaution.
“I’m asking John Williams to personally, if you are listening to my words today, I implore you to turn yourself in,” Lancaster said.
Williams is said to be armed and extremely dangerous. He’s described as 5 feet 6 inches tall, about 120 pounds with brown hair and a ponytail. Anyone who sees him is asked to call 911 immediately and not approach him.
“The community needs to stay vigilant and report any suspicious activity. We will be responding to those calls,” Lancaster said.
Lancaster said investigators believe Williams “might still be in the area” and that they’re following up on tips they receive from the public.
“We have had really a large outpouring of support from the community. We really do appreciate that and it goes towards the relationship that is between law enforcement and the community in this area,” Lancaster said.
Lancaster told reporters Thursday 175 to 200 officers from multiple agencies have been working on the case. New Hampshire State Police are also providing assistance to Maine authorities.
Law enforcement received five suspicious tips about Williams on Wednesday night “that turned out to be benign,” Lancaster said.
Williams was scheduled to appear in court in Massachusetts Wednesday afternoon to face gun charges. But hours earlier police say he killed the sheriff’s deputy in Maine, stole his cruiser, robbed a convenience store and went on the run.
Massachusetts State Police arrested Williams on March 22 in Haverhill after troopers found his car in a ditch on Route 495. When they searched his car, troopers allegedly found an unlicensed gun. Williams was arrested on several charges including improper storage of a firearm, carrying a firearm without a license and possession of a large capacity firearm.
During his arraignment on March 22, prosecutors requested $10,000 bail. Haverhill District Court Judge Michael Patten set bail at $7,500, but after a review hearing in Superior Court on March 27 Judge Timothy Feeley lowered it to $5,000. Williams posted bail just after 5 a.m. on March 31 and was set free.
Williams was scheduled to return to Haverhill District Court Wednesday for a probable cause hearing. Investigators say he has arrest records in Maine, Massachusetts and Tennessee. Details of exactly what led up to the death of Deputy Cole remain a mystery.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)