Troopers mourning one of their own

Fellow troopers are remembering their colleague.

State Trooper Joseph Ponder was just 31 years old and a native of Rineyville, Kentucky. He was still a rookie. He had been a state trooper for  less than eight months. He  graduated from the police academy in January.

Ponder was shot around 10:30 p.m. Sunday on I-24 after he stopped Joseph Johnson-Shanks at mile marker 58, westbound. 

During the stop, Johnson-Shanks drove off and a chase began. Johnson-Shanks fired several shots at Ponder, and at least one of those shots was fatal. Johnson-Shanks hid out all night, but police tracked him down around 7 Monday morning in a wooded area off I-24.

Kentucky State Police say Johnson-Shanks still had a gun when they found him, and they ordered him to put it down. When he refused, one of the officers fired and hit him. Johnson-Shanks was taken by ambulance to the Caldwell Medical Center in Princeton, where he died around 8:23 Monday morning.

Monday morning, a procession of police cars escorted Ponder’s body to Coffee and Chism Funeral Home in Vine Grove, Kentucky, which will be handling his funeral arrangements.

It is an extremely emotional day for law enforcement officers working in this area. 

It was hard for troopers to find the words to tell us what happened.

"He shot and killed one of our troopers," Trooper First Class Jay Thomas said.

Thomas said the suspect led law enforcement on an eight-hour manhunt, forcing troopers to shut down part of the interstate.

In a multi-agency effort, state police found Johnson-Shank, but the team of troopers are still coping with a big loss.

As the investigation continues, a portion of the Interstate from mile marker 45 to 56 was closed until around 2 p.m. Monday.

Related Articles