Around $2,400 was raised Monday during a benefit night for the Trooper Cameron Ponder Memorial Scholarship Fund at James T. Alton Middle School in Vine Grove.
Numerous Hardin County community members, law enforcement officials and Hardin County Schools officials were present at the fundraiser for the KSP officer.
Joseph “Cameron” Ponder, 31, was fatally shot Sept. 13, 2015, while conducting a routine traffic stop in Lyon County. He was assigned to KSP Post 1 in Mayfield, where his death came nine months into his career. Ponder responded to a traffic violation on Interstate 24, leading to a nearly ten-mile pursuit and ending when an assailant, Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks, abruptly stopped and opened fire on Ponder’s cruiser, ending his life.
In his initial traffic stop, Ponder discovered Johnson-Shanks’ license had been suspended and was making lodging arrangements at a local hotel when Johnson-Shanks drove off, resulting in the pursuit.
Ponder, a 2002 North Hardin High School graduate, attended James T. Alton Middle School and was from Rineyville.
Joe Ponder, Cameron Ponder’s dad, was one of several in attendance at the funeral. Joe drives the bus for the James T. Alton girls’ basketball team. The fundraiser was during two girls home basketball games against Scott Middle School.
Joe Ponder was moved by the community hosting an event for his son.
“It’s great,” he said. “Our community has been a great support for us throughout the years. The Kentucky State Police has always supported us. I appreciate JTA doing this for us tonight.”
Joe said he remembered the first night when his son came home from the KSP Academy with his police cruiser. The two were at a gas station and heard there was a broken down vehicle nearby and its occupants needed help. The first thing Ponder did was come to their aid.
“He was my hero,” he said.
Joe said his son loved to hunt and fish in his spare time.
Also present was James T. Alton teacher Elly Baker. Baker taught Ponder in language arts and social studies when he was a student at the school in the late 1990s.
“He was like my other child,” she said.
Baker said Ponder was a good student and loved by everyone.
“He had lots of friends,” she said. “All the kids loved him. The teachers loved him. He was a good kid. A great kid. Very kindhearted.”
Ponder made Baker a letter holder that still sits on her desk.
Brenda Tiffany, Cameron’s mother, said the money donated would help keep Ponder’s name “alive” and would help young children.
“They are blessing students in the future,” she said.