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A Kentucky state trooper who was fatally shot by a suspect Sunday night was trying to help the man who ended his life, Kentucky State Police say, according to NBC News. 

State Trooper Joseph Ponder pulled over Joseph Johnson-Shanks around 10 p.m. Sunday on an interstate highway. It is not clear why Ponder initiated the traffic stop, but the trooper soon realized that Johnson-Shanks was driving with a suspended license. Two women who were in the car, an 18-year-old and a 22-year-old, did not have licenses, and so, according to state police spokesman Jay Thomas, Ponder attempted to get a hotel room for everyone. There were also two small children in the car at the time. 

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"So he wouldn't have to take the driver to jail," Thomas explained during a press conference. "He was trying to help them out."

However, "for an unknown reason," Thomas said, Johnson-Shanks fled, forcing Ponder to pursue him for about 9 miles. Eventually Ponder was able to "position" his car against the fleeing vehicle. 

"At that point, Mr. Johnson-Shanks leaned out the driver's side window and fired several rounds into the trooper's car, hitting the hood and windshield and Trooper Ponder," Thomas said.

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Ponder died at a hospital just before midnight Sunday, according to NBC News. Johnson-Shanks continued to flee on foot, prompting a "massive" all-night manhunt before he was found at 7 a.m.

Johnson-Shanks pointed a gun at police and refused to drop the weapon, authorities said. He was shot and killed. 

The 18-year-old woman who was in the vehicle, identified as Johnson-Shanks' niece, Ambrea Shanks, was arrested and charged with hindering prosecution, according to NBC News. Thomas said that he could not provide any more details regarding the ongoing criminal investigation. 

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The other passenger, who remains unidentified, was reportedly "cooperative … and gave statements to our detectives," Thomas said. 

According to NBC, Ponder was a rookie, having only started his career with the Kentucky State Police earlier this year. He was a decorated, veteran Navy diver. 

Read more at NBC News.