Suspect accused of shooting, killing St. Croix Deputy had lengthy criminal history

(ABC 6 News) – The man accused of shooting and killing a St. Croix County Deputy had a lengthy criminal history, sources confirmed to Twin Cities, ABC affiliate KSTP-TV.

Dep. Kaitie Leising, 29, was responding to a report of a possible drunk driver in Glenwood City, Wisconsin Saturday, May 6 when she encountered Jeremiah Johnson, 34, according to information released by the Wisconsin Department of Justice. Officials say, eight minutes later, Johnson shot Dep. Leising, and he was later found dead with a handgun nearby.

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Johnson’s last known address was in Stillwater, Minnesota. Sources confirmed Tuesday he was on supervised release from the Minnesota Department of Corrections for a 2015 felony conviction when he allegedly shot Leising.

“It was the worst call any law enforcement professional or a family member wants to get and that’s ‘officer down,’” St. Croix County Sheriff Scott Knudson said, speaking out for the first time on Tuesday since Leising’s loss.

“What a wonderful young lady that was stolen by some criminal, and that’s how I’m going to refer to him,” Sheriff Knudson continued. “I’d refer more, but I don’t know if anybody’s got your dump buttons on your camera. Because I’m angry.”

Law enforcement declined to comment on the investigation Tuesday, but sources confirmed Johnson’s criminal record in Minnesota dates back to 2007. The list includes various petty misdemeanors and traffic violations, as well as prior convictions for aggravated assault and DWI. It culminated in 2015 when Johnson began serving a prison sentence for kidnapping and criminal sexual conduct.

Jeremiah Johnson (Credit: Minnesota Department of Corrections)

Johnson had been on supervised release since 2019 when, on Saturday, authorities said he was “evasive” of Leising’s request for a field sobriety test, something Johnson’s criminal record shows he’s been accused of before.

Leising “gave her entire life to this profession,” Sheriff Knudson said.

St. Croix County hasn’t lost a deputy this way in 70 years, he added.

“Her wife is at home, she’s got a 3-month-old baby. And they’ll never get to see Kaitie again,” Knudson continued. “I’m sad, I’m angry, but our profession will get through this.”

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The Sheriff thanked the community and law enforcement from across the region for their ongoing support.

Leising’s funeral is scheduled for noon on Friday at Hudson High School.