Kentucky state police say the trooper fatally shot late Sunday night was trying to help the women and children in the car with the St. Louis County man who would later kill him.
Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder, 31, had stopped for speeding a car driven by 25-year-old Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks and learned the driver’s license was suspended.
Kentucky state police spokesman Jay Thomas said Ponder was trying to make arrangements for those in Johnson-Shanks’ car to stay at a hotel for the night so someone could pick them up.
“From time to time our troopers do things like that,” said Thomas. “He was trying to help them out, and for an unknown reason, the driver fled off.”
That flight turned into a nine-mile chase before Johnson-Shanks stopped abruptly, leaned out of the driver’s window and shot through the windshield of Ponder’s vehicle, hitting him several times. He later died at a hospital in Princeton, Kentucky.
The shooting happened on Interstate 24 in western Kentucky. Johnson-Shanks ran from the scene and was found several hours later. Authorities say he pulled a gun on troopers and ignored a command to drop it. He was shot and also died later at a hospital.
His niece, 19-year-old Ambrea R.J. Shanks, is charged with hindering prosecution or apprehension. A 22-year-old woman and two children younger than 6 years-old were also in the car.