USA TODAY US Edition
Police: Suspect in trooper’s shooting killed
The man accused of shooting and killing a rookie Kentucky state trooper died of his injuries after being shot by state troopers Monday, authorities said.
Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks, 25, of Florissant, Mo., had been wanted for questioning in a high-speed chase and the shooting death of Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder on Sunday night.
Kentucky troopers found Johnson-Shanks in a wooded area close to Interstate 24, the site of the police officer’s shooting. Troopers with the special-response team saw him with a firearm and instructed him to drop his weapon. Johnson-Shanks refused commands and aimed the weapon at officers, the state police said.
A member of the special-response team shot Johnson-Shanks, police said. He was taken to a hospital in Princeton, Ky., where he later died.
The manhunt for Johnson-Shanks began after Ponder stopped a vehicle on Interstate 24 on Sunday about 11:30 p.m. ET, and the driver fled, prompting a police chase.
The chase ended about 10 miles later after the suspect stopped abruptly causing the trooper’s cruiser to “make contact” with the rear of the suspect’s vehicle, the police said in a statement. According to Kentucky State Police, several shots were fired at Ponder’s cruiser striking the car and Ponder multiple times.
Johnson-Shanks fled on foot, leading law enforcement on an hours-long search.
Eddyville is about 182 miles southwest of Louisville.
Ponder, 31, of Rineyville, Ky., had been on the force less than a year.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear issued a statement:
“Jane and I are deeply saddened by the death of Trooper Ponder. Senseless acts like this are a tragic reminder of the risks that our law enforcement officers face every day, just by putting on their uniform and doing their job. That he was killed in the line of duty makes his death memorable, but we must never forget the most significant part of Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder’s story — how he lived, his selfless service to others, and his willingness to give his life for that commitment.”
In high school, Ponder ran track and played football and baseball. He received a track scholarship to Western Kentucky University but turned it down to join the Navy.