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Communities mourn the loss of St. Croix County Deputy Kaitie Leising

Officer Kaitie Leising

By LeAnn R. Ralph

GLENWOOD CITY — Nearly two thousand Facebook comments and posts expressing prayers and condolences have appeared online for the 29-year-old St. Croix County Sheriff’s deputy shot just outside Glenwood City Saturday evening.

According to a news release from the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Deputy Kaitie Leising responded to a call about a drunk driver who had gone into the ditch off state Highway 128 near the intersection with county Highway G just south of Glenwood City at around 6:15 p.m. Saturday, May 6.

Deputy Leising made contact with Jeremiah D. Johnson, along with several other individuals who had stopped to help Johnson.

The deputy requested that Johnson complete field sobriety tests, but Johnson “was evasive,” and after about eight minutes of conversation, Johnson turned toward Deputy Leising, drew a handgun and shot her.

Deputy Leising discharged her weapon three times, although none of the rounds hit Johnson, who then fled to a nearby wooded area. 

The incident was recorded on

body camera.

The individuals who had stopped to help immediately began lifesaving measures for Deputy Leising. The deputy was transported to a local hospital where she died.

More officers responded and began searching the wooded area. About an hour after Deputy Leising had been shot, a law enforcement officer saw Johnson, heard a gunshot, and witnessed him collapse to the ground. 

No law enforcement weapons were discharged during the search for Johnson.

A handgun was recovered at the scene where Johnson was located deceased, according to DOJ’s news release.

Three years

Deputy Leising began serving with the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Department in 2022. She served with the Pennington County Sheriff’s Department in South Dakota for two years before coming to St. Croix County.

The deputy’s body received a law enforcement escort to the Ramsey County, Minnesota, medical examiner’s office and received an escort to the funeral home in western Wisconsin Sunday afternoon. 

Law enforcement officers will remain with her until the funeral services have been completed.

Hundreds of law enforcement and emergency services personnel lined the roads in tribute to Deputy Leising in Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota, according to various news reports and Facebook posts.

Sunday afternoon, a memorial to Deputy Leising had been set up in the ditch on Highway 128, and the streets of Glenwood City had been lined with blue ribbons tied to light and sign posts.

Shawn DeWitt of the Tribune Press Reporter said he had seen Rob Unruh, the new mayor in Glenwood City and also a sergeant with the Wisconsin State Patrol, and his wife, Danielle, out putting up ribbons.

As of Monday, multiple searches online of Facebook postings, circuit court access in Wisconsin and Minnesota and general Internet searches have not turned up any conclusive information about Johnson.

A MEMORIAL honoring fallen St. Croix County Sheriff’s Deputy Kaitie Leising was created in the west ditch along State Highway 128 where she was shot after answering a call for a vehicle in a ditch with a suspected impaired driver. —photo by Shawn DeWitt


One person commented on St. Croix County’s Sheriff’s Department Facebook page, “I drove by this yesterday while she was talking to the individuals. It was pouring rain, the truck was in the ditch stuck in the mud. Another truck was on the shoulder, with her squad sitting behind. Didn’t notice anything unusual looking. She was standing in the rain talking with these guys, I felt bad as I drove by as she was drenched from the rain. God’s blessings to her family, friends, fellow officers & the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Department. This is just terrible news to hear.”

Another person posted, “We drove by just before she was shot, looked like she had just got out of her car and walked towards the truck in the ditch. We were in town for maybe 10 or 15 min before we came by and saw EMTs helping her. So very sad. RIP Officer.”

Another person posted, “I grew up with Kaitie and we both chose the noble profession, she was an infectious person and exactly the type you want in law enforcement. Rest in peace sister, your watch has ended and we will take it from here, thank you for your service.”

Yet another person said, “I went to college with her and was also a fellow cop with her. She always had a smile. Always. Rest easy sister.”

Another commenter wrote,  “Such a sad day for both communities. Hard to imagine the road I drive on every day that this happened on. Never expected it, not in Glenwood City not a mile from my house.”

One man wrote that he almost stopped to help but did not: “What an evening. I went to the store by my house. Small town. And when I left the store and was driving home I saw a truck stuck off the side of the road … I felt bad for the guy and I was going to stop. Call it intuition or my angels watching over me. I had a feeling not to stop. 15 minutes later I find out that one of the guys shot the police officer who stopped to help. God bless her family.”


Governor Tony Evers posted on Twitter on Sunday, “Kathy and I join Wisconsinites in grieving the St. Croix County Sheriff’s deputy who was killed in Glenwood (City) last night. We are praying for the officer’s loved ones, colleagues, and the surrounding community and keeping them in our hearts as we mourn this tragic loss.”

“Our love and condolences go out to the family of Katie 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 infectious smile and personality. She will be missed by all she touched,” a representative for the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Department posted on Facebook.


The Cumberland Police Department posted on Facebook, “Of course every officer’s death is devastating but this is another one that hits very close to home, not even a month after Hunter and Emily’s passings. Deputy Leising actually lived in Cumberland and applied for the Cumberland Police Department when she first moved to Wisconsin. She was offered a position with us in 2022 but unfortunately (for us!) she was offered a job with St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office two days later, and took that position. She leaves behind a wife (who she spoke very lovingly of a lot when I met with her) and an infant son. We are thinking of and praying for her family, friends, colleagues, and anyone who knew her! Rest in Peace Deputy Leising.”

On April 8, two officers in Barron County, Chetek Police Officer Emily Breidenbach, age 32, and Cameron Police Officer Hunter Scheel, age 23, were shot and killed while conducting a traffic stop to check on the person’s welfare.

SITE OF FATAL SHOOTING — A huge law enforcement presence had a portion of State Road 128 at the intersection with County Road G closed following the shooting of St. Croix County Sheriff’s Deputy Kaitie Leising Saturday, May 6 in the Town of Glenwood. The Wisconsin Department of Justice is investigating the incident. —photo by Shawn DeWitt

South Dakota

The Pennington County, South Dakota, Sheriff’s Office posted, “The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office is mourning the death of our sister in law enforcement. Deputy Kaitlin Leising was shot and killed during a traffic stop in St. Croix County, Wisconsin, on Saturday, May 6, 2023. Leising was on a call investigating the report of a drunk driver.

“Leising was a former Pennington County Deputy, leaving in 2022 for Wisconsin. The 29-year-old served with the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office from February 2020 until January 2022. In the last five months with the PCSO, Leising was a Contract Deputy in Hill City.

“Kaitlin was an outstanding law enforcement officer, positively impacting many in our county.” Pennington County Sheriff Brian Mueller continued, “Most importantly, she was an outstanding human being.”

OVER A HUNDRED LOCAL PEOPLE gathered Monday evening to pray and reflect about the killing of Kaitie Leising, a St. Croix County Sheriff’s Deputy, who lost her life in the line of duty. The pray vigil was lead by Holy Cross Lutheran Church where Pastor Jonathon Zielske asked God to “give us strength of purpose and concern for one another, that we may create a community of peace where your will is being done.” He continued with; “by the power of the risen One, Jesus Christ, I declare that the place on which we are standing is holy ground.” —photo by Carlton DeWitt

Mueller went on to write, “We thank the men and women who serve and put their lives on the line every single day. Our hearts break with the loss of this brave Deputy. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Kaitlin’s family at this difficult time.”

One man wrote as a comment to the Pennington County, South Dakota, Sheriff’s Department post, “Deputy Leising was an outstanding deputy while assigned to Hill City. I had the opportunity to interact with her when we had an issue with an apparent abandoned vehicle on our road. She was professional, kind, responsive and very friendly. What a sad situation. Our prayers go out to her family and to her law enforcement family as well.”

Another commenter wrote, “Doesn’t make sense. She was a really friendly and kind person. She had many friends in Hill City and in other law enforcement agencies. Truly tragic.”

On the Rapid City Police Department Facebook page: “She was the biggest sweetheart! She was one of the only cops who seemed to actually care when my friend got jumped to a broken skull. 

She treated everyone with respect while trying to keep the situation positive as possible. This is so heart breaking and she will be severely missed.”

Another woman wrote, “She was so amazing. She talked to my kids about making right decisions when one was not and reassured my 4 year old at the time that ‘cops’ are not bad people. He was scared of them when they were at my house and she brought her brightness into the situation. She received the biggest hug from my 4 year old and a sticker was given to him. She made such a positive impact on my family and it breaks my heart to hear she passed in the line of duty. She really made an impact on those around her. She will be greatly missed.”

A MEMORIAL HAS BEEN ERECTED near highway 128 and County Road G, south of Glenwood City. The site is where St. Croix County Sheriff’s Deputy Kaitie Leising was shot and killed during a traffic stop Saturday evening, May 6th. —photo by Carlton DeWitt

The Autism Society of the Black Hills wrote, “Our hearts are broken as we learned that one of our favorite deputies was killed in the line of duty last night in Wisconsin. Kaitie was a permanent fixture at most ASBH events, as she was a cousin to our co-president, Beth. She was filled with a zest for life, an infectious smile, and the kids always flocked to her. We were so grateful for the time she invested in our group while she was with the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office. Thank you for your selfless service, Kaitie. You are loved and will be so missed.”

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