An I-24 shooting forced authorities to close the interstate in both directions for several hours after a Kentucky State Trooper was shot and killed late Sunday night. A suspect is reportedly in custody at this time.
WSFB reports investigators were searching for Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks, 25, of Missouri. The suspect was wanted in connection to the shooting death of 31-year-old Kentucky trooper Cameron Ponder, who died from his injuries at a local hospital.
The incident forced authorities to close I-24, between about the 45 and 49 mile marker, where an intense manhunt ensued. This extended from the Eddy Creek area to around Bells Creek, north of the Lamasco community in southern Lyon County, according to the report.
The suspect is described as a black male about five feet, five inches tall and 140 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair. He was last seen wearing dark clothing.
Kentucky State Police said trooper Ponder was conducting a routine traffic stop at mile marker 58 on I-24 Sunday at 10:30 p.m. The officer approached the vehicle and talked to the driver, who then drove away. A chase ensued but ended around mile marker 49 when the suspect suddenly stopped, forcing Ponder to slam on his brakes.
The trooper was unable to stop and hit the rear of Johnson-Shank’s car. According to the report, the suspect allegedly fired shots at the police cruiser, striking the hood, windshield, and Trooper Ponder multiple times.
The suspect abandoned his vehicle and ran away. I-24 remained closed early Monday morning, and authorities said they have secured a one-mile radius using K-9 units and a large number of police officers.
According to the report, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet indicates several people were being detained in connection with the murder, however, one escaped. Police are asking residents in the area to stay indoors, lock windows and doors, and call 911 if they see the suspect.
Kentucky State trooper Ponder was a U.S. Navy veteran. He had recently graduated from the KSP Training Academy and started working for Kentucky State Police in January.
SKY5HD over the scene of the deadly trooper shooting on I-24. Multiple evidence markers surround a police cruiser. pic.twitter.com/YvALLYYxAk
— Cuthbert Langley (@NC5_CLangley) September 14, 2015
— Louisville KY (@LouisvilleKYrr) September 14, 2015
UPDATE: The latest reports indicate a suspect was in custody Monday morning. The individual is alive but injured for unknown reasons.
[Image via Lyon County Judge Executive]