NORRIDGEWOCK — Just as they had in April 2018, police radios sent out an emergency “Signal 1,000” broadcast at 1:12 p.m. Thursday.

The broadcast was done at 13:12 hours — military time — to represent Cpl. Eugene Cole’s Somerset County Sheriff’s Office call number, 1312.

The dispatcher called for a moment of silence in memory of the officer who was gunned down one year ago Thursday while on duty in his hometown of Norridgewock.

“The Somerset County Sheriff’s Office respectfully requests that all units join them in a moment of silence to remember the life of Cpl. Eugene Cole, who was senselessly taken from us one year ago today,” the dispatcher announced. “Cpl. Cole was an inspiration to many and will never be forgotten.”

Cpl. Eugene Cole

Cole, 61, was shot and killed during the early morning hours of April 25, 2018, while on patrol in Norridgewock, just minutes after apparently stopping to check on John D. Williams, of Madison, who, with duffel bags and a bulletproof vest, had been dropped off at a driveway around 1 a.m.

Williams, 30, was arrested in a wooded area of Fairfield, ending a nationwide manhunt that lasted four days and involved some 200 officers from multiple jurisdictions. He is charged with murder.


Over at the Norridgewock Town Office, at the prescribed time of the broadcast Thursday, clerks Sharon Dodge and Aimee Robinson closed their eyes and lowered their heads in observance of the moment of silence, as did Gary Mann, who was a customer renewing his automobile registration.

“I think it’s appropriate,” Mann said of the moment of silence. “He was a good man by all accounts. He was well known in the town. It’s a sad thing. If it never happens again, that would be a pretty good thing.”

Norridgewock Town Manager Richard LaBelle said last week that his office had spearheaded a campaign to remember Cole by collecting food and personal care items for local food cupboards and service organizations.

Donations were collected through Thursday — Corporal Eugene Cole Day.

Dodge said Sheriff Dale Lancaster, along with Cole’s wife, Sheryl Cole, and the town manager, came by Thursday morning to collect the many items donated in Cole’s memory to be delivered to the free clothing pantry at the Seventh Day Adventist church, about a mile from town on U.S. Route 2.

Nancy and Walter Armstrong, who run the the Norridgewock Community Service store of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, said they have been busy sorting through all the items brought to the store, where everything is free for the taking.


Co-directors Nancy and Walter Armstrong sort personal items Thursday at the Norridgewock Community Services store of the Seventh Day Adventist Church after items donated by the public were delivered in memory of Cpl. Eugene Cole, who was killed a year ago. Morning Sentinel photo by David Leaming

“We’re counting it all,” Nancy Armstrong said from inside the shop, where a personal care items had been delivered. “It was like a truckload. That means Norridgewock is a pretty generous community. This represents the fact that they care, come all out for it. We give it all away as we’re given. We’re recycling. People can come from other communities, too.”

The Armstrongs said they were horrified when they heard of Cole’s death.

“It was awful — such a tragedy,” they said. “And for no reason. A year ago today.”

Sen. Brad Farrin, a Norridgewock Republican, made an announcement Thursday from the floor of the Maine Senate, remembering Cole.

“Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen of the Senate, I rise today to take a moment to remember Corporal Eugene Cole,” he said, according to a post on Farrin’s Facebook page. “Today is the one-year anniversary of the end of his watch. It is a day that Gene’s family, the residents of Norridgewock and the citizens of Somerset County will never forget.

“Gene Cole was more than just a member of law enforcement. He was a husband, father, son and brother. He was also a generous member of the community and mentor to many young deputies. As Sheriff Lancaster said. He loved the Town of Norridgewock. He’s been referred to as he was Norridgewock’s deputy sheriff. He truly embodied community policing. Mr. President, I ask that when we adjourn today we would do so in memory of Corporal Eugene Cole.”


LaBelle, the town manager, said the larger picture of remembering Cole involved the dedication of a bridge in Norridgewock as the Cpl. Eugene Cole Memorial Bridge in October on what would have been Cole’s 62nd birthday.

Redington-Fairview General Hospital Emergency Medical Services also had a new ambulance designed with graphics that honor the fallen deputy.

Signs honoring Cole have been erected at both ends of town on busy U.S. Route 2.

At the sign on Main Street downtown, Mallaney Turcotte said the ravages of drugs in Maine most certainly had a hand in Gene Cole’s death, and for that, she is worried.

Norridgewock resident Mallaney Turcotte, at one of the two signs put up at either end of the town on U.S. Route 2, speaks fondly of Cpl. Gene Cole and his family on Thursday. “It was a shame; such a nice guy,” she said.  Morning Sentinel photo by David Leaming

“It was a shame, such a nice guy,” she said. “Anybody that has to get tangled up in drugs and trying to help people that are hooked on them — I lost a son of my own to heroin. There’s no easy answers, but it’s the law enforcement that really are on the front lines.”

Cole became the first Maine police officer fatally shot in the line of duty in three decades. The case was transferred quickly to Cumberland County Court in Portland because of extensive publicity in Somerset County.

Williams has pleaded not guilty. Defense attorney Verne Paradie has asked a judge to throw out all statements Williams made to law enforcement during his arrest and interrogation, alleging that police beat Williams into confessing.

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