Kentucky State Troopers, from left, Eric Dilback, Lonnie Bell, Chris McKee, and Sean McKinney bow in prayer during a road renaming ceremony in memory of Chase Trent in Zion, Ky., Aug. 29, 2015. 
Photo by Darrin Phegley/The Gleane/AP

Man suspected of gunning down Kentucky trooper shot, killed


The man suspected of gunning down a rookie Kentucky state trooper was shot and killed early Monday after a massive manhunt, authorities said.

Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks, 25, is believed to have fatally shot Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder after a traffic stop and subsequent nine-mile car chase late Sunday.

Lyon County Executive Wade White told NBC News that Johnson-Shanks was cornered Monday in a small wooded area near some homes. Authorities commanded Johnson-Shanks to drop his weapon — but when he refused, police said, a trooper shot him.

The suspect was taken to a nearby medical facility, where he later died, authorities said.

Police had said earlier that Ponder, 31, was killed after the suspect fled from a traffic stop on Interstate 24 at 10:20 p.m. local time (11:20 p.m. ET) police said.

“A pursuit ensued with the suspect stopping abruptly around the 49 mile marker, causing the front of Trooper Ponder’s police cruiser to make contact with the rear of the suspect vehicle,” Trooper First Class Jay Thomas said in a statement.

“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,” he added. “The suspect fled the scene on foot.”

Ponder was taken to a hospital in Princeton, Kentucky, but died of his injuries at 11:41 p.m. ET (12:41 a.m. ET on Monday).

“Our condolences go out to the family, when you lose your finest it hurts,” White said. “I’m very disappointed at how things are going in this country. It’s sad.”

He added that just over a week ago he had “called two prayer services for our local state police, for people to come out and pray. We had well over 200 or so, to pray for our troops and pray for our state police and here we have this.” 

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