ST. TAMMANY PARISH, LA (WVUE) - During a press conference Tuesday afternoon, St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Randy Smith said that the suspect involved in the deputy-involved shooting Sunday morning was involved in multiple vehicle burglaries within the parish and that a second suspect has been arrested.
Police say that on Easter morning deputies were responding to the multiple calls of vehicle burglaries. Just after 4:30 a.m. deputies spotted a disabled vehicle near the intersection of Highway 1085 and Highway 1077. While speaking to the person inside of the vehicle, identified as 24-year-old John Halley of Covington, deputies determined he is one of two suspects involved in the burglaries.
Just before 5 a.m. deputies were in pursuit of the second person who was believed to be involved in the burglaries.
According to a report by our partners NOLA.com | The Times Picayune, St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Deputy Justin Nail, 36, had just pulled up to his Covington home Sunday when he heard word of the pursuit happening nearby.
According to the report, he left his home to chase the vehicle burglary suspect.
Jessica, his wife, told NOLA.com | The Times Picayune that she heard him leave in a hurry and anxiously waited for him to return. When he didn't come home, she began to worry.
According to the report, two officers pulled up and asked her to get in the car, that Justin had been injured.
During the chase, the suspect, Joseph Walden Johnson Jr., crashed his car into a ditch in the Goodbee area.
Deputies said there was an exchange of gunfire between Johnson and the deputies. Johnson was killed in the gunfight. Nail was shot in the abdomen.
According to the report, Nail was out of surgery and resting Monday at an area hospital.
Sheriff Smith said on Sunday that he is expected to make a full recovery.
St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister released the following statement, Sunday afternoon:
During their investigation, deputies learned that both Johnson and Halley were tied to at least nine vehicle burglaries that occurred over the weekend in St. Tammany Parish. They also discovered that the gun that Johnson had was stolen out of car in Slidell.
Halley was booked in the St. Tammany Parish Jail for illegal possession of stolen things and simple burglary. Police say that additional charges are possible.
Sheriff Smith said, "I want to thank the community for its outpouring of prayers and support for our all of our deputies, who put their lives on the line every day to keep St. Tammany safe, and particularly for Deputy Nail during this time, and I ask for them to continue."
Tuesday afternoon, St. Tammany Parish Coroner Dr. Charles Preston released the autopsy report on Johnson, saying that he died from multiple gunshot wounds. A total of 14 projectiles were recovered from Johnson's body as he was shot in the head, neck, chest and abdomen. Results from the toxicology tests are pending.