A western Wisconsin sheriff's deputy was shot and killed Saturday night, the third such on-duty shooting death of a law enforcement officer in the region in a month, officials said.
The St. Croix County Sheriff's Office identified the slain deputy as Kaitie Leising, 29, who had been with the department since 2022. The suspect also is dead.
"We will miss her infectious smile and personality," Sheriff Scott Knudson said in a statement. "She will be missed by all she touched."
Leising was shot just outside Glenwood City, Wis., 60 miles east of the Twin Cities, at about 6:15 p.m., according to a release from the Wisconsin Department of Justice. She was responding to a report of a possible drunken driver, who was stuck in a ditch. Shots were exchanged shortly after she arrived, officials said.
The deputy was taken to a nearby hospital and died there, according to state officials.
"The [suspect] fled and was later found deceased in a wooded area with a gunshot wound. There is no threat to the community," a Department of Justice news release said.
Wisconsin officials identified the suspect as Jeremiah D. Johnson, 34. He was evasive toward Leising's requests for a field sobriety test, and after about eight minutes he turned toward Leising, drew a handgun and shot her, the agency said. Leising fired back three times, but Johnson got away, the state Justice Department said. Officers recovered a handgun near Johnson's body, the state Justice Department said.
Body camera footage captured the deputy's shooting, the agency said.
On Sunday afternoon, Leising's body was escorted by a law enforcement procession from the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office to a funeral home in Baldwin, Wis.
Emergency vehicles with lights flashing lined the overpasses on Interstate 94 in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and a massive American flag billowed atop the Baldwin exit.
Knudson said that funeral arrangements were pending, and that deputies and officers will stand vigil by Leising's side until the services are complete.
At a home overlooking the shooting scene, Colonel Lightfoot said Sunday that he saw four vehicles at Wisconsin Hwy. 128 and County Road G — one of them a pickup truck driven by the alleged assailant. Two vehicles left, and two people in a second pickup truck were trying to pull the suspect from the ditch when the deputy arrived, he said.
"All of a sudden there were five shots fired, and a person took off running to the south-southwest of my property," Lightfoot said. "And then I immediately called dispatch and let them know that an officer was down because I couldn't see her."
Lightfoot's wife, Sarah, ran to the scene with towels to help stop the deputy's bleeding.
"My wife felt for a pulse, but what I think she was feeling was her own pulse," he said, adding the deputy was unresponsive.
Officers swarm scene
Lightfoot said dozens of squad cars and other vehicles swarmed the scene, and the investigation lasted into the night.
Glenwood City's mayor confirmed the large law enforcement presence.
"Numerous agencies responded … to secure the safety of our community and residents as quickly as possible," Robert Unruh said in a statement.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the fallen officer, the St. Croix County Sheriff's Office and all law enforcement," Unruh wrote. "Our community was abruptly disturbed and exposed to an incident that greatly affected everyone in many ways and will continue to do so."
On Sunday, blue ribbons hung from signs in a largely quiet downtown.
The Wisconsin Justice Department said the incident is being investigated by the Division of Criminal Investigation, with the help of neighboring law enforcement agencies, including the Wisconsin State Patrol, Wisconsin State Crime Lab and a DCI crime response specialist.
Agencies show support
The Sheriff's Office and the deputy's family received an outpouring of support.
Just before noon Sunday, nearly 200 prayers and condolences filled the St. Croix County Sheriff's Facebook page, which features a black band on a sheriff's badge.
Minneapolis police joined officers from Minnesota and Wisconsin overnight for a procession that escorted the deputy's body to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office in St. Paul.
"Our deepest condolences to the family. The sacrifice will never be forgotten," the Minneapolis Police Department posted on its own Facebook page.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with our St. Croix County Sheriff's Office family dealing with the death of one of their deputies," posted the Barron County, Wis., Sheriff's Office on its own Facebook page.
Most recent deaths
In early April, two police officers were shot and killed in Barron County during a traffic stop in Cameron. Killed were officers Emily Breidenbach, 32, of the Chetek Police Department, and Hunter Scheel, 23, of the Cameron Police Department.
A western Minnesota sheriff's deputy was shot and killed and two other law enforcement officers were injured while responding to a domestic dispute call April 15. Pope County Sheriff's Deputy Joshua Owen died on his 44th birthday. The suspected shooter died when officers returned fire.