Maine residents are remembering a sheriff's deputy who was killed in the line of duty one year ago.
Sixty-one-year-old Cpl. Eugene Cole was shot and killed April 25, 2019, while on patrol in his hometown of Norridgewock.
John D. Williams was arrested and charged with murder after a four-day manhunt in connection to the shooting and is awaiting trial. He pleaded not guilty.
U.S. & World
A year after the shooting, Norridgewock officials named April 25 as "Corporal Eugene Cole Day" to remember Cole and to make sure his legacy is never forgotten.
Town Manager Richard LaBelle told the Press Herald he came up with an idea of also helping to spread goodwill in Cole's name by having people donate non-perishable food and personal care items at four locations in Maine leading up to April 25.
"On this day, the community is encouraged to volunteer, give back, and get involved as a way to honor Gene and the service of law enforcement officers and their families," read a statement on the town's website.
Thursday morning, dozens of students dropped off donations to be distributed to schoolchildren in need by Cole’s widow and the county Sheriff. In the afternoon, a moment of silence was held.
Banners with Cole's face were also placed on visible street corners and some American flags were replaced with black and white versions, with the blue stripe honoring a fallen police officer.
"He was very much loved in this community," said Marilyn Oleyar, who changed her daily walk to pass over the bridge named to honor the fallen deputy. "I usually don’t walk this way... but I couldn't think of a better way to honor him than to enjoy the safety of this town and that's what he provided to people."
Some of those who knew Cole best, the deputies who served with him, say he crosses their minds almost daily.
Somerset County Sheriff’s Cpl. Richard Putnam said Cole’s legacy is his willingness to give to his neighbors.
"He was just a wonderful guy. He was always there, willing to help out, not just in law enforcement, just in general," said Putnam. "There's nothing that he wouldn't do for anyone."
Since Cole's death, the Sheriff's Office has changed its practices. Somerset County Sheriff Dale Lancaster says the fact Cole's truck was stolen the night he died made the beginning of an investigation more difficult. Since that time, the office has moved to put GPS trackers in all vehicles.
Cole was the first officer killed in the line of duty in Maine in nearly three decades.