In the aftermath of the killing of Cpl. Eugene Cole and the successful apprehension of the man suspected of killing him, Somerset County Sheriff Dale Lancaster pointed out that “a lot of officers will say that they’re fine. I want to tell you that they’ve been all deeply affected — not only our agency, but all agencies have been deeply affected by what has happened, me included.

“Cpl. Cole died on my watch, and it’s something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life and I will never forget.”

In an interview Thursday at his office in East Madison, Lancaster said, “From throughout the country, we’ve been contacted. Different agencies are going to be sending representatives. We’re anticipating that it’s going to be a large event.”

Lancaster would not estimate the anticipated number of people who will attend visiting hours Sunday at the Skowhegan Armory or the service Monday at the Cross Center in Bangor, but he said there have been inquiries from as far away as California.

“Since Tuesday we’ve had teams preparing and mapping and planning how we’re going to approach the Cross Center and how, logistically, we’re going to deploy,” Lancaster said. “We’ve been told the Cross Center holds up to 14,000 people. This is not only for law enforcement, but it affects the communities in Somerset County and it affects everyone in the state of Maine.”

An elite motorcycle unit from the New York City Police Department will lead a funeral procession through Skowhegan on Monday morning, en route to the memorial services in Bangor for Cole, who was shot and killed April 25 in the line of duty.


Cole was 61 and a 13-year veteran of the sheriff’s office. He was the first Maine police officer to die in a shooting in nearly 30 years. Lancaster said Maine State Police Detective Gil Landry was the last Maine law enforcement officer to be murdered in the line of duty, on March 31, 1989. Lewiston police Officer David R. Payne was murdered on July 23, 1988, he said.

John D. Williams, 29, of Madison, is alleged to have shot and killed Cole and stolen his marked cruiser just after 1 a.m. April 25. He made his first court appearance Monday in Augusta and was charged with intentional or knowing murder. Williams is being held without bail at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham.

Visiting hours for Cole will be 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday at the Skowhegan Armory, 11 North School St., Skowhegan.

This sign appearing Thursday on North Avenue in Skowhegan warns motorists of likely traffic congestion on May 6 near the Skowhegan Armory around the time of the memorial service for Cpl. Gene Cole, of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office. Staff photo by David Leaming

North Avenue in Skowhegan will be closed 3 to 8 p.m. Sunday from the intersection of East Street through the intersection of East Dyer Street. Residents of that area will be able to get to and from their homes.

Law enforcement will be parking at the Skowhegan Fairgrounds. Civilian parking will be available at Margaret Chase Smith School on Heselton Street. The path from the school to the armory has been cleared for people to use getting to the armory. The Kennebec Valley Community Action Program will be assisting with handicapped-accessibility.

“We’re calling it a walk-by,” Lancaster said of the Sunday service. “Gene is going to be at the armory for people in the community and law enforcement that want to pay their respects from 4 to 7 p.m. If it goes past 7 o’clock, we’re not closing the door. We will continue to allow people to pay their respects until everyone’s had a chance to do that.”


Somerset County Detective David Cole, Eugene Cole’s son, who was with the sheriff during Thursday’s interview, said the casket will be closed at the Sunday event. He said the family mourns.

“She’s holding up well,” he said of his mother, Sheryl Cole. “The very strong community support has been great and support from the sheriff’s office and the law enforcement community has been great.”

Speaking for himself, losing his father, a fellow law enforcement officer, David Cole said he is “doing well.”

David Cole held the rank of corporal — like his father — until Wednesday, when he was tagged to fill an open detective’s position at the sheriff’s office. Lancaster said the timing was coincidental.

There will be a parking ban from 7 to 11 a.m. Monday on Madison Avenue and Water Street in Skowhegan. Madison Avenue and Water Street will be closed to traffic 10 to 10:30 a.m. as the procession taking Cole from Smart & Edwards Funeral Home in Skowhegan to the memorial service in Bangor moves through town to U.S. Route 2, according to Skowhegan Road Commissioner Greg Dore.

A celebration of Cole’s life will be held at noon Monday at the Cross Insurance Center, at 515 Main St., Bangor, with Chaplain Kevin Brooks officiating.


“The procession will come back through town — Water Street, Commercial Street and Madison Avenue — at approximately 4 p.m. to return Cpl. Cole to the funeral home,” Dore said. “Expect traffic delays.”

Lancaster said the funeral procession, led by the NYPD motorcycle unit, will be followed by a hearse with Cole’s body, then by the immediate members of Cole’s family, followed by the “family” of Somerset County officials and a Maine State Police cruiser — about 40 cars in all.

Cpl. Eugene Cole

A state police honor guard will participate in services Sunday and Monday. Lancaster said the Bangor Chamber of Commerce has helped with placing visitors from out of the area in local hotels.

Somerset County Administrator Dawn DiBlasi said she expects Monday’s celebration of Cole’s life to be an emotional one.

“On Monday, May 7, the county will say their final goodbyes to Cpl. Eugene Cole,” DiBlasi said in a statement. “He was loved by all and he will be missed by his coworkers and the citizens of Somerset County. It is clear to us that Cpl. Cole knew the meaning of community policing and was more than just a deputy in our community.

“While we cannot make sense of this tragedy, we can honor Cpl. Cole’s memory by following his example. We are told that even the people he arrested felt he was a fair, evenhanded deputy who gave respect and consideration to everyone he came in contact with. Thank you Cpl. Cole for your service to Somerset County. You will never be forgotten.”


A spokeswoman at the Cross Center referred all questions on venue preparation to Steve McCausland at the Maine Department of Public Safety.

McCausland said Friday that there will be designated areas for the news media.

Doors will open to the public at 8 a.m. Monday at the Cross Center and seating for the public will be on a first-come, first-served basis, McCausland said. There will be security checkpoints, large handbags are discouraged and no weapons will be allowed. The Cross Center’s website has specifics.

Bangor Police public information officer Wade Betters has issued a traffic advisory for Monday around the Cross Center. The best advice for motorists not attending the services is to find alternate routes away from the area, McCausland said in an email. Hundreds of police cars will be arriving for the services, and traffic and parking will be a challenge, he said.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367


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