MADISON (NEWS CENTER Maine) — Wednesday was a long and stressful day for Bob Bishop as he watched local, county, state and federal law enforcement search the home belonging to his neighbor who police believe shot and killed a Somerset County sheriff's deputy.
"What’s the world coming to? Little rural towns like this have this kind of stuff going on?" Bishop said. "As soon as I saw the picture on Facebook, I knew right away. I said I pulled that guy’s car out of a snowbank, he lives right beside me."
Bishop said John Williams, the 29-year-old suspect in Wednesday's fatal shooting of Deputy Cpl. Eugene Cole, lived in the house across the street from him. He said he had a number of typical, friendly interactions with Williams and the people who lived at the address, plowing out their driveway in the winter, and making friendly conversation.
"I guess you don’t really know what goes on behind peoples closed doors,” Bishop said.
Bishop's wife, who suffers from a number of medical issues including Parkinson’s disease, was not allowed to leave by police. She called Bishop and asked him to come home. Police would not let him through.
"I’m kind of upset that my wife is home freaking out and crying and scared," Bishop said sometime around noon Wednesday. "I can’t be there to help her."
State police and Somerset County sheriff's deputies had a concentrated effort around 16 Jones St. in Madison beginning at noon, with guns pointed toward the home and helicopters hovering over the area. Police did not say what information let them to that address, nor if Williams was in fact in the home.
Throughout the afternoon, police presence decreased. Officers lowered their guns. But at about 7 p.m., Somerset County sheriff's deputies moved all of the media and public that had gathered at the end of Jones Street, about 100 yards from the home they were searching, to across the street while they brought in two armored vehicles: one from the Maine State Police, and another from the Bangor Police Department.
At the time, Bishop could only communicate with his wife by cell phone, watching as officers, dressed in fatigues carrying tactical rifles, issued instructions to whoever was inside the home using a loudspeaker.
"Residents of 16 Jones St.: We have secured a search warrant for this building and property,“ an officer from the Maine State Police crisis negotiation team said over the loudspeaker. "We want to hear your side of the story. We want to resolve this peacefully. Come to the front door with nothing in your hands. If you follow my instructions, I can guarantee your safety."
"I’m going to hug her and I’m going to squeeze her and I’m going to tell her that I love to the end of all eternity,” Bishop said. "She’s my everything. I’m scared."
Around 9 p.m., the tactical vehicles left the scene. The Maine State Police evidence response team truck arrived, and officers began to process the home.
Finally, around 10 p.m., sheriff's deputies allowed residence back in their homes. Bob and his wife were reunited.
"I’ve been waiting all day to do this," Bishop told his wife, Rhonda. "I love you so much."
His wife said she was grateful to have her husband back home. She knows that the Cole family, the dozens of law enforcement officers across the county and the state are without a father, husband and a loved one tonight.
A state police sergeant would not say what police recovered from the home at 16 Jones St., but he said they did not intend to bring the evidence response team back on Thursday.