A search is underway for a man suspected of killing a police officer in central Maine and driving away with the officer's squad vehicle early Wednesday -- on the same day the suspect was supposed to appear in court in Massachusetts, authorities say.
Investigators believe John Williams, 29, of Madison, Maine, shot and killed Somerset County police Cpl. Eugene Cole sometime between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. in the town of Norridgewock, county Sheriff Dale Lancaster said.
Williams then drove Cole's vehicle to a Cumberland Farms convenience store in the same town and committed a theft there, Maine State Police said in a statement.
Authorities released surveillance images they say show Williams walking out of the store.
The officer's vehicle was found abandoned later Wednesday morning, off a road in Norridgewock, state police said.
"The suspect should be considered armed and dangerous," the police statement said.
Police haven't said what led to the shooting, or how they came to suspect Williams shot Cole.
Williams had been scheduled to be at Haverhill District Court in Massachusetts on Wednesday morning for a probable cause hearing related to his arrest in that state March 22 on suspicion of having a gun without a license, said Carrie Kimball-Monahan, spokeswoman for the Essex district attorney's office.
In that case, Williams was arrested after Massachusetts State Police troopers found him in a car that was in a ditch in Haverhill, Massachusetts, state police said.
Cole was a father and an "outstanding" officer, Lancaster said.
Maine Gov. Paul LePage tweeted Wednesday that flags will be flown at half-staff in Cole's memory for the next three days.
"Cpl. Cole served his community with honor," LePage's Twitter account reads. "His sacrifice will not be forgotten."
Williams is 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighs 120 pounds, has blue eyes and brown hair with shaved sides and a ponytail on top, state police said.
Norridgewock is a town of about 3,000 people roughly a 90-minute drive northeast of Portland.