KY Trooper Killed And Alleged Gunman Shot In Police Manhunt

A KY Trooper was killed, and the alleged suspect, Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks, 25, of Missouri, was later shot to death after police ordered a manhunt for the suspected shooter. State trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder, 31, was shot to death after he stopped the suspect on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. on Interstate 24, and the driver fled the scene, leading to a police chase.

As reported in USA Today, the chase ended about 10 miles later when the suspect stopped abruptly and was rear ended by Ponder’s police cruiser. The suspect fired several shots at the police cruiser and Ponder was struck several times by the shots. Ponder was taken to a hospital in Princeton, Kentucky, where he later died of the injuries received.

While the suspect fled on foot, police closed a nine mile section of Interstate 24 and used dogs and helicopters to try and locate the suspect. After the KY trooper was killed, his sister, Kelly Ponder, posted the following on the Kentucky State Police page.

“My brother was the best man in the world and did not deserve what happened to him.”

WUSA9 reported that, according to Trooper Jay Thomas, a state police spokesman, the suspect was killed after he refused to drop his weapon when he was apprehended by police on Monday morning. He later died at an area hospital.

According to NPR, the suspect was found in a wooded area near I-24 and said to be armed.

“Johnson-Shanks refused verbal commands and aimed the weapon at the Troopers. An SRT Trooper discharged his agency issued weapon striking Johnson-Shanks,” police say. “He was transported via ambulance to the Caldwell Medical Center in Princeton, KY for treatment where he later succumbed to his injuries.”

Police had issued an update and warned area residents to be on the lookout for the suspect.

“At this time, the driver of the suspect vehicle fired several shots into the police cruiser striking the hood, windshield and Trooper Ponder multiple times. The suspect fled the scene on foot.”

Police say the area where the KY trooper was killed was located around the Eddy Creek area to around Bells Creek on Interstate 24. Multiple law enforcement agencies assisted with the search for Johnson-Shanks.

The KY trooper killed had only been a member of the state police for less than a year. He graduated from the Kentucky State police training academy in January. He was also a U.S. Navy veteran from Rineyville, Kentucky.

[Photo Credit WPSD Local 6]