Minnesota man accused of killing St. Croix County deputy was on probation for 2015 kidnapping and sexual assault

Jeremiah D. Johnson allegedly shot and killed Deputy Kaitie Leising Saturday after crashing his car into a ditch

Crime scene tape
Police tape cordons off a crime scene in Philadelphia on Dec. 14, 2018. Matt Rourke/AP Photo

The man accused of killing a St. Croix County Sheriff’s deputy on Saturday before turning the gun on himself was on probation in Minnesota for a 2015 kidnapping and sexual assault.

A statement from the Wisconsin Department of Justice identified the shooter as 34-year-old Jeremiah D. Johnson. The DOJ says Johnson was potentially impaired and had driven his vehicle into a ditch in the town of Glenwood, Saturday evening. St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Katie Leising, 29, responded and attempted to conduct field sobriety tests when Johnson became evasive. Body camera video shows Johnson pulling a pistol and shooting Leising, according to the DOJ statement.

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald confirmed Johnson’s full name as Jeremiah Daniel Johnson, Monday afternoon. Social media posts by family members first linked in a story by Heavy.com show photos of Johnson, who was on probation through October 2029 for a 2015 kidnapping and sexual assault of a young woman in Minnesota. He was convicted in 2015 on charges of kidnapping and third-degree sexual assault. As conditions of his probation, Johnson was not permitted to use alcohol or other drugs, nor to use or possess guns.

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A criminal complaint from that case states that in July 2015, police in St. Paul, Minnesota received calls of an intoxicated woman lying on a sidewalk who was unable to provide her name. Before police arrived, witnesses saw a man later identified as Jeremiah Daniel Johnson pick the woman up and carry her to a green pickup truck before speeding away. The woman told police she woke up in her bra and underwear lying next to Johnson and worried something “may have happened.” A hospital examination found evidence of sexual assault.

Johnson was arrested and a search of his residence in Stillwater, Minnesota found an unwrapped condom and numerous items of clothing. Johnson told investigators he “wanted to help” the woman because she had sprained her ankle. After initially denying sexual contact with her, Johnson admitted he “tried to do a little something, but it didn’t work.”

Johnson was convicted and sentenced to a total of just more than six years in prison. Data from the Minnesota Department of Corrections indicate Johnson was placed on probation Oct. 28, 2019.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Justice, after shooting Leising on Saturday, Johnson ran into a wooded area. Other officers responded and searched the woods for Johnson. The statement says one of them spotted Johnson, heard a single gunshot and watched Johnson collapse. He was found dead with a pistol near his body. The DOJ said no officers fired shots during the search.

A statement released Sunday by St. Croix County Sheriff Scott Knudson said Leising had worked with the department since last year.

“Our love and condolences go out to the family of Kaitie Leising and all those with whom she served. We, as a law enforcement family, will do everything possible to continue to provide support and comfort to her family. We will miss her infections smile and personality,” Knudson said.

Prior to her time with St. Croix County, Leising spent two years as a deputy with the Pennington County South Dakota Sheriff’s Office. On Sunday, Pennington County Sheriff Brian Mueller said in a statement that Leising “was an outstanding law enforcement officer, positively impacting many in our county.”

During an interview with WPR, Sheriff Mueller said members of the community Leising once patrolled have reached out with condolences and stories about how she impacted peoples’ lives. He said the office is grieving, and staff members plan to attend her funeral in Wisconsin.

“It’s not a trip any law enforcement officer wants to make in their career,” Mueller said. “But we have some that are very much wanting to travel out there, get to meet her brothers and sisters in law enforcement in Saint Croix, share some stories about the impact she had on us here, how she impacted their community, and that’ll be all part of our healing process.”

Funeral arrangements for Deputy Leising will be announced during a St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office press conference Tuesday at 1pm.

Pennington County Sheriff’s Office Senior Deputy Jim Waldrop’s evening shifts in rural Hill City, South Dakota overlapped with Leising’s day shifts. He told WPR the community knew her on a first name basis with one mother telling him about how Leising diffused a domestic situation involving her children in a positive and respectful way. Waldrop said he had more years in law enforcement than Leising and would help her with job related questions. In turn, he said, Leising would help him with computer issues.

“There’s still handwritten notes from her in our office that she left for me and things on the computer that she set up,” Waldrop said. “But what really was impactful about that is she never made you feel stupid.”