KY trooper shooting suspect killed after manhunt

The suspect is 25-year-old Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks. (Source: Lyon County Judge Executive)

LYON COUNTY, KY (KFVS) – The suspect in the shooting death of a Kentucky State Police trooper has been shot and killed.

KSP Trooper Jay Thomas says the suspect, Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks, 25, of Flourissant was shot by a special response team Monday morning after a lengthy police chase. He was taken to the hospital in Princeton where he died at 8:23 a.m.

Thomas says Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder, 31, was shot and killed Sunday night after a traffic stop and police chase.

“We’re all just holding it together the best we can and continue to do our jobs,” said Trooper Thomas. “It’s tough on us and it’s tough on our families.”

The shooting

Trooper Ponder conducted a traffic stop around 10:20 p.m. Sunday on Interstate 24 near mile marker 58.

After talking with the trooper, Johnson-Shanks then drove away.

A woman and two children, ages 2 and 5, were also in the vehicle. No word on the children’s relation to the suspect.

A chase ended with the suspect stopping abruptly near mile marker 49, causing Ponder to run into the rear of the suspect’s vehicle.

The suspect leaned out of the driver’s side window and shot the hood, windshield and window of Trooper Ponder’s car, striking Ponder multiple times. It is not know how many shots were fired. Ponder was in his car when he was shot.

Ponder died of his injuries at the Caldwell Medical Center in Princeton, Ky. at 11:41 p.m. Ponder was shot around 10:30 p.m.

The suspect abandoned his vehicle on the median and ran away.

The woman and children were detained at one point.

Johnson-Shanks was found in a wooded area off of I-24 just after 7 a.m.

The suspect was armed and refused verbal commands to lower his weapon.

That’s when he was shot by members of a special response team and taken to a Princeton hospital where he died at 8:23 a.m.

Another news conference is scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday at the KSP post in Mayfield.

Autopsies for Ponder and Johnson-Shanks are being scheduled in Louisville.

The victim

Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder was 31 years old. (Source: KSP)
Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder was 31 years old. (Source: KSP)

Trooper Cameron Ponder, 31, is originally from Rineyville, Kentucky.

He is a U.S. Navy veteran.

Ponder recently graduated from the KSP Training Academy, and started working for Kentucky State Police in January.

“He was very proud to be a Kentucky State Police trooper,” Thomas said. “He was new and he was eager. He absolutely loved his job.”

Ponder was stationed at Post 1 in Mayfield and was assigned to the Trigg County area.

He had plans to move closer to home with in the next year.

“Pray for our guys that are out here,” Lyon County Judge Executive Wade White asked.

This is the second KSP trooper to die in the line of duty in 2015.

“We are a close tight-night group and we’re all brothers and sisters,” Thomas said.

The suspect

Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks, 25, of Flourissant Missouri.

He is described as a black male approximately 5’5”, 140 pounds, brown eyes and black hair.

Interstate closure

KYTC reports police were focused on locating the suspect in a wooded area between about the 45 and 49 mile marker. This is along I-24 extending from the Eddy Creek area to around Bells Creek, which is generally north of the Lamasco community in southern Lyon County.

At this time, KYTC reports Interstate 24 both eastbound and westbound between Exit 45 and Exit 54 is closed.

The closure is expected to last until about noon while the investigation continues.

Detours are set up to route drivers around the area. Drivers will have to travel on KY 93 between the KY 293 Eddyville-Princeton Exit 45 Interchange and the KY 193 Cadiz-Princeton Exit 56 Interchange.

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