Loved ones remember Kentucky State Police trooper shot and kille - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Loved ones remember Kentucky State Police trooper shot and killed in Lyon County

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Cameron Ponder poses with Coach James Webb (Left) and a science teacher on a recent visit. Cameron Ponder poses with Coach James Webb (Left) and a science teacher on a recent visit.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Coach James Webb remembers Joseph Cameron Ponder as a student who grew into a friend and a trooper with a bright future. 

"He was a kind-hearted young man. Had his stuff together. Had a vision and a plan and he would follow through. He was tough as nails," Webb said.  

That future was cut short Sunday night when Kentucky State Police say Trooper Ponder tried to pull over Joseph Johnson-Shanks on Interstate 24 in Lyon County.

It lead to a chase and we're told Johnson -Shanks stopped abruptly, forcing Ponder to smash into his car from behind. The 25-year-old suspect fired several shots killing the trooper, according to KSP.

"We're all just holding together the best we can trying to do our jobs. It is tough for us and tough for our families," KSP Spokesperson Trooper Jay Thomas said.

The news hit hard at North Hardin High, where Ponder was a track star. His cousin teaches at the school and his father drives a school bus. 

Coach Webb said he had just seen Ponder four weeks ago. "He had just been to the funeral of the last trooper who died in the car wreck and so he stopped by to visit before he went home," Coach Webb said.

Loved ones say Ponder served in the U.S. Navy and trained with the seals. The Rineyville native graduated from the Kentucky State Police Academy in January. Friends were excited that he'd soon be transferred to the post in Elizabethtown, closer to home. 

"He was one of those guys that you just always expected to come home and to hear this time he didn't -- it's just earth shattering," family friend Jade Flynn said.

State Police say when Ponder stopped Johnson-Shanks for speeding Sunday night the trooper found out the suspects license was expired. The Missouri man had four others in the car with him including two young children and no one else had a valid driver's license. Investigators say the trooper tried to help and went back to his car to make a arrangements to get all five people to a hotel. Trooper Thomas said That's when Johnson-Shanks took off. 

The massive search for the suspect ended around 7 Monday morning...in the woods off I-24.  

"Shanks was armed with a firearm," Trooper Thomas said. "He refused to lower his weapon. A trooper from the Kentucky State Police special response team then shot shanks."

The news hit the coach almost as hard as the loss itself. 

"Man, I wanted to talk to that guy," he said. "I really did. I wanted to let him know who he took."

Ponder is the 84th officer killed on the job in the United States this year. 

His visitation is set for Thursday at Stithton Baptist Church in Radcliff, with the funeral Friday morning at Severns Valley Baptist Church in Elizabethtown.

You can find Ponder's funeral arrangements here.

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