KSP trooper: 'Shots fired. Shots fired. I'm hit. I'm passing out - WDRB 41 Louisville News

KSP trooper: 'Shots fired. Shots fired. I'm hit. I'm passing out'

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Police on the scene of the fatal KSP shooting on I-24 on September 13, 2015. Police on the scene of the fatal KSP shooting on I-24 on September 13, 2015.
Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder
Joseph Johnson-Shanks Joseph Johnson-Shanks

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Kentucky State Police trooper killed late Sunday night in Lyon County had been in contact with dispatchers and was providing details about the suspect and his pursuit until the moment he was shot.

Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder, 31, had initially pulled over a black Dodge Avenger driven by Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks of Florissant, Missouri, for speeding on Interstate 24 near the 58 mile marker.

A KSP spokesman said Ponder had been arranging for overnight lodging for the suspects fellow travelers, including two children, when suddenly, Johnson-Shanks took off.

According to police radio scanner recorded and uploaded to YouTube on Tuesday morning that was authenticated by KSP, Ponder indicated that the vehicle -- which had been going as fast as 115 MPH -- was "smoking and slowing down" to about 76 MPH and stopping near the 49 mile marker.

"He's off again," Ponder said. "He's got a blown front left tire. I tried to pin him in, he's trying to go still."

About 30 seconds later: "Shots fired! Shots fired. I'm hit, I'm hit. I need assistance. I'm passing out."

Within moments, a passerby pulled up on the scene.

"I just pulled over, I heard gunshots," the man yells. "This officer, I don't think he can breathe well."

A dispatcher immediately responds: "Keep talking to us...whoever this is talking to us on the radio, keep talking to us. Is he breathing?"

Ponder, a Navy veteran, had been on the state police force less than a year. He was taken to a hospital, where he died shortly before midnight.

Ponder's is the third trooper to die in the line of duty for KSP in three months.

"It's an incredibly painful time for our agency -- it's a dark time," Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer told WDRB News on Tuesday. "Two of these officers are from the same recruit class. It's absolutely devastating." Brewer condemned the release of the recordings on youtube and the sharing on social media.

Johnson-Shanks was found after a massive overnight manhunt in a wooded area about 9 miles from the initial stop and less than a mile from where the trooper had been gunned down, said Trooper Jay Thomas, a KSP spokesman.

Johnson-Shanks drew a weapon at police, ignored commands to drop his weapon and was shot Monday, Thomas said. He died later at a hospital.

Loved ones say Ponder served in the U.S. Navy and trained with the Navy 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 told WDRB News on Monday.

18-year-old Ambrea Shanks, the niece of suspect Thomas Johnson-Shanks, was arrested Monday.

According to KSP, she was also in the car when Ponder pulled them over. Ambrea Shanks is accused of hindering prosecution or apprehension. 

Ponder will be laid to rest in Radcliff on Friday.

Over the past few days, Brewer said his agency has received hundreds of phone calls and notes of support from citizens and law enforcement officers from all over the world.

"It shows that we do have a lot of support out there," he said.

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