Slain Alabama sheriff 'Big John’ Williams buried, remembered as ‘true peacemaker’

The Alabama sheriff fatally shot last month in Lowndes County was remembered as a "true peacemaker" during a funeral service held Monday.

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John "Big John" Williams, the sheriff of Lowndes County since 2010, died Nov. 23 when he was shot in the head at a convenience store in downtown Hayneville. William Chase Johnson, 18, of Montgomery, surrendered to police early the next day and has been charged with murder.

Family, friends and colleagues gathered Monday at Garrett Coliseum in Montgomery to pay their respects, reported.

“He was a true peacemaker, a true servant of God,” Montgomery County Sheriff Derrick Cunningham told the crowd.

The funeral was moved from Lowndes County to nearby Montgomery because there were no churches large enough to hold the expected crowd, a pastor told WSFA.

Monday's funeral was a mix of singing, tributes and memories of the 6-foot-4 sheriff lovingly known as "Big John," the television station reported.

Three Alabama sheriffs spoke during the service -- Cunningham, Clarke County Sheriff Ray Norris and Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor, reported.

"Nobody ever questioned John's integrity," Taylor, who is president of the Alabama Sheriffs Association, told the crowd. "He always stood on the side of what was right. He was a man of honor and pride and respect for others. Nothing made him happier than helping somebody in Lowndes County."

After the two-hour service, Williams' body was taken to the Original Shiloh Primitive Baptist Church cemetery in Hayneville, where the sheriff served as a deacon.

The service ended with a final dispatch call to the sheriff recorded for the occasion, reported.

“We thank you for your dedication, loyalty and service to the citizens of Lowndes County, Alabama and to the United States of America. ... Rest in peace ... end of watch.”

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