KSP: Slain trooper attempted to find hotel for women, children p - KMOV.com

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KSP: Slain trooper attempted to find hotel for women, children prior to shooting

Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder (L) was fatally shot by Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks (R) Sunday night, according to police. Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder (L) was fatally shot by Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks (R) Sunday night, according to police.
Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks is sought after a Kentucky trooper was fatally shot Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks is sought after a Kentucky trooper was fatally shot
Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder (Source: KSP) Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder (Source: KSP)
Ambrea Shanks, 18, of Florissant, charged with hindering prosecution of first-degree apprehension following fatal trooper shooting Ambrea Shanks, 18, of Florissant, charged with hindering prosecution of first-degree apprehension following fatal trooper shooting
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By BRUCE SCHREINER / Associated Press & KMOV.com Staff

EDDYVILLE, Ky. (AP/KMOV.com) – A Florissant man accused of fatally shooting a Kentucky trooper was shot and killed after he refused to drop his weapon following an hours-long manhunt, police said Monday.

Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder, who was 31 and had been on the force less than a year, was conducting a traffic stop Sunday night around 10:20 p.m. on Interstate 24 when the driver fled, Kentucky State Police said in a news release.

Trooper Ponder was trying find a hotel for the other four people in the vehicle because the driver had a suspended license. Two woman and two children, ages 2 and 5, were also in the vehicle. There is no word on the children's relation to the suspect. The two women did not have a driver's license.

A chase ensued with the suspect stopping abruptly, causing the trooper's vehicle to "make contact" with the rear of the suspect's vehicle, the news release said.

The driver then fired several shots into Ponder's police cruiser, hitting him several times. Ponder was taken to a hospital, where he died shortly before midnight, the release said.

The suspect, 25-year-old Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks of Florissant, Missouri, ran away and was found hours later in a rural, wooded area, said Trooper Jay Thomas, a state police spokesman. Johnson-Shanks refused to drop his weapon and was shot by officers, and he later died at a hospital, Thomas said.

Johnson-Shanks' niece, Florissant resident Ambrea R.J. Shanks, 18, was arrested and charged with hindering prosecution or first-degree apprehension following the incident. She was a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the fatal shooting, police said. 

Ponder had graduated from the Kentucky State Police training academy in January and was stationed at the state police post in Mayfield, the news release said.

According to the St. Louis County Police Department, in May, Johnson-Shanks was seen on surveillance video stealing $900 worth of lottery tickets from a BP gas station in the 12090 block of Benham Road. From the stolen tickets, police said, the suspect won $385, which he claimed at various stores. 

State police said numerous law enforcement agencies, as well as helicopters and dogs, were used to help with search efforts in the rural, wooded area that has homes scattered about. Thomas said there are numerous vacant summer homes in the area.

Police closed a 9-mile section of the interstate while the search was being conducted.

Following the fatal shooting, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear released the following statement: 

“Jane and I are deeply saddened by the death of Trooper Ponder. Senseless acts like this are a tragic reminder of the risks that our law enforcement officers face every day, just by putting on their uniform and doing their job. That he was killed in the line of duty makes his death memorable, but we must never forget the most significant part of Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder’s story – how he lived, his selfless service to others, and his willingness to give his life for that commitment.”

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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