Southern States Violent Crime

St. Tammany County Sheriff’s Deputy Justin Nail Wounded in Shootout, Suspect Killed

St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Randy Smith has scheduled a news conference for Tuesday afternoon (April 3) to discuss a deadly shootout between deputies and a man the Sheriff’s Office said led them on a pre-dawn pursuit Sunday.

The man, identified by the St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office as 24-year-old Joseph Johnson Jr. of Folsom, was killed. A sheriff’s deputy, Justin Nail, underwent emergency surgery for a gunshot wound to the abdomen and is in stable condition at an area hospital, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The sheriff’s office identified the deputy as Justin Nail, a 13-year veteran.

Official details of the pursuit and gun battle have been scarce. The Sheriff’s Office said Sunday that a deputy tried to stop a vehicle believed to have been involved in vehicle burglaries in the Mandeville and Madisonville area but the driver instead led deputies on a chase.

That pursuit ended at Railroad Avenue and Louisiana 1077 in the Goodbee community where the driver, later identified as Johnson, ended up in a ditch and exchanged gunfire with deputies, the Sheriff’s Office said. Sheriff Randy Smith on Sunday said four deputies were involved but declined to discuss specifics.

“The suspect was still in his vehicle when the gun battle ensued,” Smith did say.

Residents living near the corner of Louisiana 1077 and Railroad Avenue described hearing numerous gunshots after 5 a.m. Sunday.

US Navy veteran and father of one was shot in the abdomen after deputies chased a suspected vehicle burglar.

The Coroner’s Office said an autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday. A coroner’s spokesman said Johnson’s family declined an opportunity to have an independent physician observe the autopsy, which is the coroner’s policy when the case is an officer-involved shooting or in-custody death.

In St. Tammany Parish, Clerk of Court records show Johnson pleaded guilty to several charges, mostly drug-related, as well as resisting an officer, since 2012.

He admitted to possession with intent to distribute marijuana, two counts of possession of a Schedule III drug and possession of a legend drug without a prescription, charges that were filed in 2012.

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