Suspect in Kentucky Cop Killing Shot Dead: Police

Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks didn't drop his weapon when asked: cops
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 14, 2015 6:50 AM CDT
Photo of suspect Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks.   (Kentucky State Police)
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(Newser) – The hunt is over for a 25-year-old Missouri man accused of shooting and killing a Kentucky State Police trooper. Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks was captured around 7am, Kentucky State Police Sgt. Michael Webb tells the Washington Post, but he wouldn't obey troopers' instructions to drop his weapon, so authorities "engaged" with him, shooting and killing him. The suspect was taken to a nearby medical center, where he was declared dead, Webb adds. Before Johnson-Shanks' capture, a warning posted on the Lyon County Facebook page had urged residents to keep their doors and windows locked after 31-year-old Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder was fatally shot during what should've been a routine traffic stop on Interstate 24 around 10:20pm local time last night, per NBC News.

Johnson-Shanks allegedly took off from the scene and led Ponder on a 9-mile pursuit, finally "stopping abruptly … [and] causing the front of Trooper Ponder's police cruiser to make contact with the rear of the suspect vehicle," per a police statement cited by NBC. At that point, Johnson-Shanks is accused of unloading his gun into Ponder's police vehicle, hitting both the car and Ponder "multiple times." The suspect booked out of there on foot, and responders rushed Ponder to a nearby hospital, where he died shortly after. Ponder had just graduated from the Kentucky State Police training academy in January, the AP notes. "This is a very, very difficult time for our agency," Webb tells the Post. "This is a felonious murder and our hearts go out to the trooper's family." (An Illinois cop was killed during a traffic stop earlier this month.)

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