A massive manhunt that shut down a portion of Interstate 24 concluded Monday morning when Kentucky State Police fatally shot murder suspect Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks. Missouri resident Johnson-Shanks stood accused of gunning down State Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder following a 30-minute chase Sunday night (video below).
Ponder, 31, had stopped Johnson-Shanks’ vehicle at a traffic stop at 10:20 p.m. local time on Sunday, NBC News reports. After a brief exchange, the suspect fled in his car with Ponder in pursuit in a chase that would stretch nine miles.
The chase ended with Johnson-Shanks, 25, braking his vehicle abruptly, “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," Thomas added. "The suspect fled the scene on foot.”
Ponder was taken to a hospital in Princeton, Kentucky, where passed away at 11:41 p.m.
Police shut down a section of Interstate 24 and combed the area using helicopters and dogs, according to the Daily Mail.
Johnson-Shanks was fatally shot by police after being discovered in a wooded area on Friendship Road at 7:30 a.m. Monday morning. Police told him to put down his weapon, and when he refused, they shot and killed him, Lyon County Executive Wade White told NBC News.
Ponder was a U.S. Navy veteran. He had only graduated from Kentucky State Police Training Academy in January 2015.
"Our condolences go out to the family, when you lose your finest it hurts," White said.
The victim’s brother, Kelly Ponder, took to social media to respond to the outpouring of condolences.
“Thank you for all the kind words,” he says in a Facebook post. “My brother was the best man in the world and did not deserve what happened to him. Please pray for us, this was an enormous loss. #Heartbroken.”