South Carolina Highway Patrol
Age: 38 years
Service: 12 years
Corporal Kenneth Johnson was shot and killed while conducting a holiday weekend public safety checkpoint in Berkeley County at 0215 hours.
He and other troopers were positioned on College Park Road between I-26 and US 17A and had stopped a pickup truck. As a trooper wrote the female driver a ticket for possession of an open container of an alcoholic beverage, Corporal Johnson walked around the back of the truck to check the identity of the male passenger. As he did so, the man jumped out of the truck and opened fire, striking Corporal Johnson in the abdomen just below his protective vest. As the man attempted to escape, the other troopers returned fire, wounding him, and took him into custody.
The male suspect was an escapee from a Charleston County work release detail. The female driver of the truck was also charged with possession of a stolen vehicle. The male suspect was convicted of seven counts, including murder, on May 18, 2003, and was sentenced to death the following day.
Corporal Johnson had been a member of the South Carolina Highway Patrol for 12 years, and is survived by his wife and two children.