MAINE – Authorities have launched a massive dragnet for a man who shot and killed sheriff’s deputy who was responding to a robbery at a local convenience store, officials said.
Somerset County Sheriff Dale Lancaster said Corporal Eugene Cole was killed in the shooting around 1:14 a.m. in Norridgewock, located about 30 miles north of the state capital of Augusta.
“He was one of the finest deputies that you would want to meet,” Lancaster told reporters at a news conference.
Corporal Eugene Cole / Somerset County Sheriff’s Office
Authorities said the suspect, 29-year-old John Williams stole Cole’s police cruiser after the shooting and abandoned the vehicle around 5 a.m. He is now believed to have fled on foot and should be considered “armed and dangerous, according to Lancaster, FOX News reports.
The suspect, who remained at large and is considered armed and dangerous, was identified as John Williams, 29, of Madison. He was described as 5-foot 6-inches tall, weighing about 120 pounds, with brown hair shaved on the sides with a pony tail.
29-year-old John Williams / Somerset County Sheriff’s Office
The Press Herald reports that multiple law enforcement officials were on scene in the Norridgewock and Skowhegan area Wednesday morning following an early morning report of a robbery at a local convenience store.
It appeared that law enforcement were pursuing the suspect across the central Maine region, with multiple area schools going into lockout or lockdown as a precaution. AOS 92 schools serving Vassalboro, Waterville and Winslow went into lockout, and those in Oakland and Norridgewock into a lock. Armed officers were seen in the Skowhegan and Oakland areas as well.
The FBI told WGME they are sending assistance to help the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office and Maine State Police with the investigation.
Cole was a member of the sheriff’s office for 13 years, according to Lancster.
A portion of U.S. Route 2 heading through the downtown area of Norridgewock is closed as part of the investigation, according to WGME.
Police and sheriff’s deputies could be seen holding weapons near the convenience store.
This is a developing story.