End Of An Era

Sheriff Williams Retires


Tommy Williams was honored during the annual Christmas luncheon at the Jourdanton Community Center. He received a proclamation from Lieutenant Governor of Texas David Dewhurst and a flag which was flown over the State Capitol building.

Tommy Williams was honored during the annual Christmas luncheon at the Jourdanton Community Center. He received a proclamation from Lieutenant Governor of Texas David Dewhurst and a flag which was flown over the State Capitol building.

When Sheriff Tommy Williams hangs up his hat, badge, gun and boots at the end of this month, he will have been the longest tenured sheriff in Atascosa County. And, according to the Sheriff’s Association of Texas, he is currently the most tenured (active) sheriff in the state of Texas.

Williams’ career started in Atascosa County in 1973. He faced then Sheriff H.H. Coward and Johnny Burdett. A run-off election was held between Coward and Williams. The Democratic Primary election decided the race and Williams took office on January 1, 1973.

Williams has law enforcement blood coursing through his veins. His greatgrandfather, William N. Gates served as Atascosa County’s fourth (1862-1864) and sixth (1865-1866) sheriff. His great-uncle, Leroy P. Williams also was sheriff in 1870-1873 and 1882-1883.

Among the Sheriff’s most memorable times are, sadly, dark ones. Shortly after he took office, Deputy Luis Garza and his wife Elida were murdered after being kidnapped on July 19, 1973 near Charlotte.

A few years later, Aerl Jernigan was also murdered in the line of duty. Jernigan was killed on December 21, 1975 while answering a disturbance call in the Primrose area of northern Atascosa County. Each year the Atascosa County Law Enforcement Officers Association honors one of their own with the Aerl Jernigan/ Luis Garza Officer of the Year Award.

Of course, the ambush in 1999 that claimed the lives of three law enforcement officers and injured two more was also one of the most difficult times in his career. Two Atascosa County deputies, Mark Stephenson and Thomas Monse along with DPS Trooper Terry Miller were all killed after they responded to a bogus 9-1-1 call. Injured were Pleasanton Police Officer Louis Tudyk and retired Border Patrol Agent Carl Fisher.

A statement issued at the time by Williams reads as follows:

“The Atascosa County Sheriff’s Department would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere thanks for the generous outpouring of support in the form of flowers, cards, letters, phone calls and food that was made available to the Sheriff’s Department and the families of Thomas Monse, Mark Stephenson and Terry Miller.

It has been a time of real sorrow and an opportunity to re-evaluate ourselves and renew our commitment and dedication to continue to serve the citizens of Atascosa County. We can not find a word that truly expresses our appreciation for all the many kind deeds you have done. But your presence and actions have been heart warming. We covet your prayers and your expressions of concern for the families who have lost loved ones and also the employees and staff of the Sheriff’s office that, too, have experienced a great loss.

Thank you so very much for caring and taking the time to express your feelings. May God bless each of you.”

But of all the losses the Sheriff has endured during his tenure, the murder of his nephew and namesake, Tommy Dean Shearrer, was the hardest to handle. Shearrer’s high profile murder occurred on October 12 of this year. The hunt for the suspect involved several law enforcement agencies and many volunteers. Williams, silent during press conferences, was intent on finding the killer. In Less than 72 hours, the suspect was found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.­The Sheriff has good memories as well. Among them are the many drug busts his department has made and solving burglaries.

When asked what he will miss after he retires, the Sheriff replied “I will miss being able to help the citizens of Atascosa County. They have been good to me.”

Williams and his wife Sandra have been married for 52 of his 75 years. They have a daughter, Amber Williams, who is an Investigator for the Atascosa County Attorney’s office and two grandchildren John and Kelsea Merryman.

– – Proclamation

Texas The State of these prese nt To all whom shall come Greetings: , that this certificate Know ye is presented to Will iams Sheriff Tommy in Texas Serv ing Sheriff Second Longest This certifies that the Tex as Flag herewith.

Capitol of the Sover eig flown the was at of Texas in Austin, Texas State retirement October 12, 2012 in honor of your County Sheriff’s from the Atascosa Depart ment. of exempl ary serv rs you for 39 yea Than kand best wishes for you r retirement. the pursua nt to ice, In witness whereof and hereunto vested in me, I have authority sig ned my name on this the 12t h October, 2012 day of

David Dewhurst Texas Governor of Lieutenant

History of Atascosa County

SHERIFFS

1856-1859 James. H. French
1859-1860 Robert G. Long
1860-1862 Marshall C. Kelly
1862-1864 William N. Gates
1864-1865 William J. Slaughter 1865-1866 William N. Gates
1866-1867 L. W. Avant
1867-1868 Charles J. Emsley
1868-1869 D. L. Musgrave
1869 James McLain
Elledge
1869-1870 J. N. Cannon
1870-1873 L. P. Williams
1873-1882 G. W. M. Duck
1882-1883 L. P. Williams
1883-1884 N. R. Wallace
1884-1894 G. W. M. Duck
1894-1904 A. M. Avant
1904-1910 T. L. Richardson
1910-1915 J. H. WInn
1915-1918 George L. Tullos
1918-1930 L. D. McAda
1930-1932 J. B. Lott
1932-1944 L. D. McAda
1944-1946 Tom Howard
1946-1950 H. H. Coward
1950-1960 Ray Strickland
1960-1972 H.H. Coward
1972-1975 Tommy Williams
1975-1976 Ray Strickland
1976-2012 Tommy Williams
2013-present David Soward


Gathering at the annual Christmas and Sheriff Williams’ retirement luncheon are, left to right, Deputy Jack Bryan, Sgt. Deputy EJ Lozano, Deputy Daniel Hernandez, Sheriff Tommy Williams, Deputy Jim Boyd, Sheriff Elect David Soward, Jail Lt. Martin Gonzales, Sgt. Wayne Stratton, Sgt. Max Peralta, Jail Sgt. Mike Benavides and Sgt. Matthew Miller.

Gathering at the annual Christmas and Sheriff Williams’ retirement luncheon are, left to right, Deputy Jack Bryan, Sgt. Deputy EJ Lozano, Deputy Daniel Hernandez, Sheriff Tommy Williams, Deputy Jim Boyd, Sheriff Elect David Soward, Jail Lt. Martin Gonzales, Sgt. Wayne Stratton, Sgt. Max Peralta, Jail Sgt. Mike Benavides and Sgt. Matthew Miller.

In this 1973 file photo, Sheriff Tommy Williams shows a new .38 revolver which was presented to him by Poteet friends. Looking on, left to right, were Deputy Sheriffs Clifton Lott, Jim McDonald and Jim Emahiser, former Poteet police chief.

In this 1973 file photo, Sheriff Tommy Williams shows a new .38 revolver which was presented to him by Poteet friends. Looking on, left to right, were Deputy Sheriffs Clifton Lott, Jim McDonald and Jim Emahiser, former Poteet police chief.

 

 

One response to “End Of An Era”

  1. Rafael Garza says:

    I Rafael Garza
    Son of Luis Garza (Fallen Officer) will always have my deepest respect to Mr. William. He is a Gentlemen that never forgot his officers families. He has always looked out for us even when we didn’t even know he remembered us.
    Mr. William may God always look out for you as he did take his time to create an angle to walk among us.
    Thank you for all the time served to protect all who you could with the power given to you.
    Thank you Mr. Williams
    Sincerely:
    Juan Rafael Garza

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