AUGUSTA — A dozen law-enforcement agencies will take part in a slow-pitch softball tournament Sunday to honor slain Somerset County Sheriff’s Deputy Cpl. Eugene Cole.

“For all of us, it happened so close to home,” said organizer and Kennebec County Sheriff’s Department Detective Brittany Johnson. “I think any way we can support their family, we all want to and this is my opportunity to do that.”

Police say Cole, 62, of Norridgewock, was shot and killed by John Williams, 29, of Madison, early in the morning on April 25. Cole intervened when Williams was trying to enter the home of Kim Sirois, who Williams said was his stepmother, and fell to the ground during the encounter. Williams reportedly drew a gun from his waistband and shot Cole in the head.

Williams was arrested in Fairfield after a four-day manhunt that involved nearly 200 officers.

Cole was the first Maine police officer to die in a shooting in nearly 30 years.

Johnson said the Blue Lives Matter Softball Tournament has taken place the last three years, benefiting the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial Fund. The fund, a nonprofit founded in 1984, aims to tell the story of American law enforcement and make those who serve safer.

But this year, the tournament will benefit the family of Cpl. Cole directly. Johnson said it was only fitting to donate the money to his family, because law enforcement from multiple agencies around the state assisted in the manhunt and felt the impact of Cole’s death.

“It’s some way to feel better about the situation and keeping his name in our conversation,” Johnson said. “Law enforcement is a big family and when (Cole’s family) thinks about it, I want them to know we’re thinking of him too.”

This year’s tournament is hosted by the Thomas F. Malloy Fraternal Order of Police Lodge and will take place at the Sidney Pit Athletic Complex at 2865 West River Road in Sidney. The tournament was previously held across three fields in Waterville, which Johnson said presented transportation challenges for participants.

Johnson, a Winslow High School graduate and winner of the 2005 Miss Maine Softball award, said 12 teams will compete: Augusta Police Department, Old Town Police Department, Portland Police Department, Waterville Police Department, Winslow Police Department, Westbrook Police Department, the Maine District Attorney’s Office, the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Kennebec, Cumberland and Somerset counties sheriff’s departments.

The Somerset Sheriff’s department team will include Cole’s son and daughter, Johnson said.

The first games will begin at 8 a.m. The final is slated for 5 p.m.

Full concessions will be available, along with T-shirts donated by A2Z Computing Services of Oakland. Pine State Services donated banners bearing Cole’s image.

Lt. Michael Knight of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department said the community around the department has hosted a number of events in Cole’s honor. A softball tournament was hosted in Skowhegan in June, as well as a hockey game in July and a 5K and half-marathon in August.

“The community outreach has been incredible,” Knight said. “When you go through something like that, and you see the community’s support, it makes us feel like we’re not doing this in vain.”

Local businesses and community members are helping the Cole family build a new house in Norridgewock.

“I’m still a bit in shock by this whole thing. The amount of good, kind, generous and caring people in this world continues to flabbergast me, and I suppose that is always a good feeling to have,” Cole’s wife Sheryl told the Morning Sentinel in August.

Sam Shepherd — 621-5666

[email protected]

Twitter: @SamShepME

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