Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks: Kentucky State Trooper Suspect Captured

Tara Dodrill

The manhunt for the killer of Kentucky State Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder has ended. Suspect Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks was apprehended and taken into custody after a high-speed pursuit on Monday morning.

Kentucky State Police closed a section of Interstate 24 as they searched for the man who allegedly shot and killed State Trooper Joseph Ponder, 31. Law enforcement officials stated that Joseph Johnson-Shanks was chased for 30 minutes before the cop killer suspect abruptly stopped, causing a crash along the roadway.

“The suspect has been identified as Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks, 25, of Missouri. He is described as a black male approximately 5’5″, 140 pounds, brown eyes and black hair,” a police warning about the suspect said. “He was last seen wearing dark clothing. If anyone makes contact with the suspect, dial 911. He should be considered armed and dangerous.”

Johnson-Shanks pulled out a gun and peppered Kentucky police cruisers with bullets before he was captured, the Daily Mail reports. Details about the incident are still emerging. An ambulance was spotted leaving the scene of the encounter with the alleged Kentucky State Police trooper’s killer, News Channel5 reports.

Trooper Ponder, a United States Navy veteran, reportedly stopped Joseph Johnson-Shanks’ car along Interstate 24 during the late evening hours on Sunday. After speaking with the driver during the traffic stop, Johnson-Shanks took off. The suspect then reportedly stopped his vehicle so quickly at mile marker 49 that Trooper Ponder’s cruiser slammed into the back end of the car.

Kentucky State Police officials say that Johnson-Shanks then pulled a gun and shot at Joseph Ponder multiple times before taking off on foot. The police officer was rushed to the Caldwell Medical Center in Princeton, where he died shortly later.

Ponder had joined the state police force in January. The trooper was from Rineville and had graduated from the state law enforcement training academy just prior to getting hired as an officer stationed at the Mayfield post.

Kelly Ponder, the troopers brother, thanked the public for their support during this difficult time.

“Thank you for all the kind words. My brother was the best man in the world and did not deserve what happened to him. Please pray for us, this was an enormous loss. #Heartbroken.”