Crime, Law and Justice

St. Croix County sheriff's deputy fatally shot while responding to call

Deputy Killed
Law enforcement members comfort each other after St. Croix County Deputy Kaitie Leising's body was carried into a Baldwin, Wis., funeral home Sunday afternoon. Leising was shot and killed during a traffic stop Saturday.
Jeff Wheeler | Star Tribune via AP

Updated: 4:35 p.m.

A sheriff’s deputy was fatally shot after responding to a call Saturday evening in western Wisconsin. The suspected shooter is also dead.

Deputy Kaitie Leising, 29, is the fourth law enforcement officer in the region to be fatally shot while responding to calls in the past month.

The latest shooting happened at about 6:15 p.m. Saturday in St. Croix County near Glenwood City, about 40 miles east of the Twin Cities.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice reported that the St. Croix County deputy was responding to a report of a potential drunk driver in a ditch, along with another vehicle of individuals that stopped to assist.

Leising requested the suspect, Jeremiah D. Johnson, 34, participate in a field sobriety test before returning to his vehicle. Johnson was evasive, and after about 8 minutes of dialogue, turned toward Leising, drew a handgun and shot her.

According to the state justice department, Leising fired three times but didn’t strike Johnson before he ran into a nearby wooded area. The department said the event was captured on body camera.

Deputy Killed
A procession of dozens of law enforcement vehicles follow the vehicle carrying St. Croix County Deputy Kaitie Leising's body near a Baldwin, Wis., funeral home.
Jeff Wheeler | Star Tribune via AP

Individuals in the assisting vehicle attempted to give lifesaving measures for Leising, according to the state justice department. She was transported to a local hospital where she died.

Other officers began searching the wooded area near the scene. After an hour after Leising was shot, an officer spotted Johnson, heard a gunshot and witnessed him collapse to the ground. The state justice department said no officers discharged their weapons during their search, and a handgun was recovered at the scene where Johnson was found deceased.

Authorities said the suspect fled the scene and was later found dead from a gunshot wound in a wooded area.

An initial news release from the Wisconsin DOJ said there was no ongoing threat to the community, but did not provide further details.

Leising served with the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office since 2022. Prior to that, she served with the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office in South Dakota for about two years.

“Our love and condolences go out to the family of Kaitie Leising and all those with whom she served,” St. Croix Sheriff Scott Knudson said in a release. “We will miss her infectious smile and personality.”

State officials are leading the investigation.

A procession of law enforcement vehicles from both Minnesota and Wisconsin escorted Leising’s remains from the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office in St. Paul to a funeral home in Baldwin, Wis.

James Stuart is the executive director for the Minnesota Sheriff's Association. He told MPR News his association would be doing whatever it can to support the communities in Wisconsin impacted by the loss.

“I was just disgusted and sad and heartbroken, and it's just so painful to see our protectors being taken from us by such pointless and evil actions,” Stuart said.

It was a show of support that has become familiar in the region over the past month.

Deputy Killed
A small memorial where St. Croix County Deputy Kaitie Leising was killed is displayed Sunday afternoon.
Jeff Wheeler | Star Tribune via AP

Last month, on April 8, two western Wisconsin police officers — one from Chetek, the other from Cameron — were fatally shot during a traffic stop in Barron County.

And in Minnesota, Pope County Sheriff’s Deputy Josh Owen was fatally shot while responding to a domestic violence call in Cyrus on April 15.