St. Croix County Sheriff’s Deputy shot and killed Saturday

Deputy Kaitie Leising, age 29, died while investigating potentially impaired driver in ditch

Red and blue police car lights shine into the night.
A procession approaches a cemetery Monday, Feb. 13, 2023, in honor of Milwaukee police officer Peter Jerving in Brookfield, Wis. Jerving was shot and killed in the line of duty. Angela Major/WPR

A St. Croix County Sheriff’s Deputy was shot and killed Saturday while responding to a driver in a ditch.

A press release from Croix County Sheriff Scott Knudson says Deputy Kaitie Leising, age 29, was killed while responding to a potentially impaired driver who had gone off the road in the Town of Glenwood. Glenwood is about 40 miles from the Minnesota border.

Knudson said as Leising investigated, gunfire was exchanged and the deputy was killed.

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“Deputy Leissing is being escorted from the medical examiner’s office in Ramsey County, MN to the funeral home by a law enforcement procession,” Knudson said. “Deputies and Officers will stand vigil by her side until the services are complete.”

A statement from the Wisconsin Department of Justice, issued Sunday afternoon said Leising ordered the driver, 34 year old Jeremiah D. Johnson, to participate in field sobriety tests before returning to his vehicle.

“Johnson was evasive to Deputy Leising’s requests and after approximately 8 minutes of dialogue, Johnson turned toward Deputy Leising, drew a handgun and shot her,” the statement said, “After being struck, Deputy Leising discharged her weapon three times, but none of the rounds hit Johnson before he fled to the nearby wooded area.”

The DOJ said occupants of another vehicle who were assisting Johnson before Leising arrived began lifesaving measures on the deputy.

Additional officers responded to the scene and began searching the woods. Around an hour after the shooting, one of them saw Johnson. The statement said the officer then heard a gunshot and “witnessed him collapse to the ground.”

“During the search for Johnson no law enforcement discharged their weapons,” the statement said. “A handgun was recovered at the scene where Johnson was located deceased.”

Deputy Leising joined the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office in 2022, Knudson said. Before joining the department she served for two years with the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office in South Dakota.

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

Funeral arrangements with law enforcement honors are pending, said Knudson.

Within hours of the shooting, Saturday, law enforcement agencies around Wisconsin posted pictures of a St. Croix County Sheriff’s Badge with a black band across it as a show of support for the department and fallen deputy.

“Our hearts bleed for the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office, after one of their deputies was shot and killed tonight,” said a post from the neighboring Pierce County Sheriff’s Office. “This senseless and cowardly act leaves yet another family in mourning. These kind of tragedies simply must end. Our prayers are with you all, St. Croix County.”

The shooting comes just weeks after two police officers from Chetek and Cameron, about 40 miles north of Eau Claire, were killed in a shootout with a suspect who was pulled over for a welfare check and an outstanding warrant. That suspect also died from gunshot wounds.