Home / National News / Kentucky Trooper Killing: Suspect Dies in Police-Involved Shooting


(PRINCETON, Ky.) — The suspect in a deadly shooting of a Kentucky State Police trooper died in custody Monday morning, police said.

The suspect, identified as Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks of Missouri, was caught in a secluded, wooded area around 7 a.m. CT, Kentucky State Trooper Jay Thomas said at a news conference Monday.

The suspect was armed with a weapon, Thomas said, and he was shot by a trooper when he refused to lower the weapon.

Johnson-Shanks was taken to a hospital where he died Monday morning, Thomas said.

The slain trooper was identified as 31-year-old Joseph Cameron Ponder, the Kentucky State Police said.

Ponder first made contact with the suspect at a traffic stop Sunday night, police said, but the suspect fled, leading Ponder on a car chase.

After about 9 miles, the suspect stopped abruptly and Ponder’s car hit the back of the suspect’s car, police said. The suspect then fired at Ponder’s car, hitting the trooper several times.

The suspect fled the scene on foot, police said.

Ponder was taken to Caldwell Medical Center in Princeton, Kentucky, where he died, police said. Ponder was a U.S. Navy veteran, Thomas said.

Other people were in the car at the time of the shooting, Thomas said, adding that it’s unclear whether the others were related to the suspect. The other people were detained but it’s unclear whether any of them were charged, Thomas said.

The investigation is ongoing, Thomas said, adding that the motive is unclear.

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