Beaufort News

Fugitive from Beaufort found in North Carolina

When Wilmington, N.C., police arrested a former Beaufort man last month, they remembered him as the same suspect previously charged with trying to run down three of their officers.

And when officers checked for warrants, they learned it wasn't the first time Johnnie L. Williams, 42, was accused of using his car as a weapon against law enforcement. He still faces three counts of attempted murder following a 2012 incident in Beaufort, in which he allegedly tried to run over three deputies. The 14th Circuit Solicitor's Office was unable to locate Williams after he failed to appear in Beaufort County court in March.

Lt. Col. Bill Neill of the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office said the agency had been looking for Williams, who has lived in Beaufort and Port Royal.

In August 2012, Williams was charged with three counts of attempted murder following an incident at a Beaufort apartment complex, according to a Sheriff's Office news release.

Drug task force investigators tried to stop the vehicle he was driving after he entered the Canal Apartments parking lot at about 9:15 p.m. June 29, 2012, but Williams circled the lot and then suddenly put the car in reverse and lurched backward toward the exit, the release said.

As he tried to drive away, Williams tried to run over three officers, two of whom fired shots into the car, causing it to crash, the release said.

Williams was treated for gunshot wounds, arrested Aug. 17, 2012, and also charged with failing to stop for blue lights and child endangerment. His 6-year-old nephew had been riding in the front seat but was not injured, according to the release.

Williams was released the next day on a $165,000 personal-recognizance bond, according to court records.

On Oct. 31, 2013, Williams was arrested again following a similar incident, this time in Wilmington.

He was traveling through the North Carolina city when he failed to stop for a checkpoint and tried to hit three of the officers manning it, according to a Wilmington Police Department news release. Police chased the vehicle until it stopped at an intersection, and one officer was able to put his patrol dog into the suspect's car.

The dog bit Williams, injuring him and ending the chase, the release said. Williams was charged with three counts of assault with a deadly weapon on a government official, fleeing to elude arrest with a motor vehicle and reckless driving.

He was released from jail Nov. 18 on a $50,000 personal-recognizance bond, according to the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office.

On March 17, Williams missed a court date in Beaufort County, prompting a judge to issue a bench warrant for his arrest, according to Daniel Brownstein, spokesman for the 14th Circuit Solicitor's Office.

On May 21, he was picked up again in Wilmington.

Neighbors called police after they heard an argument coming from Williams' Chestnut Street home, police spokesman Linda Rawley said. Police heard a woman screaming and went inside to find the home in disarray and the victim lying on the ground with a cut under her right eye.

Williams was found next door, running out the back of another home and trying to climb a fence before police caught him.

He was charged with assault, fleeing to evade arrest and fugitive from justice. He remains in jail with bond set at $110,000.

Neill said Williams must go through the North Carolina courts before he is extradited to Beaufort County. He wasn't sure Wednesday how long that could take.

"But we're next in line to go pick him up," Neill said.

Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye at

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