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Man Suspected of Gunning Down Kentucky Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder Shot, Killed

Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder, 31, was killed after a driver fled from a traffic stop on Interstate 24.
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The man suspected of gunning down a rookie Kentucky state trooper was shot and killed early Monday after a massive manhunt, authorities said.

Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks, 25, is believed to have fatally shot Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder after a traffic stop and subsequent nine-mile car chase late Sunday.

Image: Joseph Cameron Ponder
A Kentucky State Police Trooper was fatally shot after a nine-mile pursuit late Sunday, sparking a manhunt.Kentucky State Police

Lyon County Executive Wade White told NBC News that Johnson-Shanks was cornered Monday in a small wooded area near some homes. Authorities commanded Johnson-Shanks to drop his weapon — but when he refused, police said, a trooper shot him.

The suspect was taken to a nearby medical facility, where he later died, authorities said.

Police had said earlier that Ponder, 31, was killed after the suspect fled from a traffic stop on Interstate 24 at 10:20 p.m. local time (11:20 p.m. ET) police said.

"A pursuit ensued with the suspect stopping abruptly around the 49 mile marker, causing the front of Trooper Ponder’s police cruiser to make contact with the rear of the suspect vehicle," Trooper First Class Jay Thomas said in a statement.

Image: Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks
Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks, 25, of Missouri was the subject of a manhunt early Monday.Kentucky State Police

"At this time, the driver of the suspect vehicle fired several shots into the police cruiser striking the hood, windshield and Trooper Ponder multiple times," he added. "The suspect fled the scene on foot."

Ponder was taken to a hospital in Princeton, Kentucky, but died of his injuries at 11:41 p.m. ET (12:41 a.m. ET on Monday).

Ponder was a Navy veteran, said James Webb, who coached Ponder in high school track and football and who remained close with the trooper after graduation.

He was "just a fantastic young man — humble, quiet and unassuming," Webb told NBC affiliate WAVE.

In a statement released Monday, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said he was "deeply saddened" by the killing.

"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," the statement said. "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.”