Wausau Pilot & Review

The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) have identified a St. Croix County Sheriff’s deputy who died in the line of duty as 29-year-old Kaitie Leising.

Deputy Leising

Police say Leising was responding at about 6:15 p.m. Saturday, May 6 to a report of a potential drunken driver in a ditch in Glenwood City. Leising, who had about three years of law enforcement experience, asked the driver of the vehicle to undergo field sobriety testing at the scene. Another vehicle had stopped to assist, police said.

The driver, 34-year-old Jeremiah D. Johnson, spoke with Leising for about 8 minutes before drawing a handgun and shooting the deputy, according to the DOJ. Deputy Leising also discharged her weapon three times but did not hit Johnson, who fled to a nearby wooded area. The entire exchange was captured on body cam video, officials said.

The occupants of the assisting vehicle immediately began lifesaving measures on Deputy Leising, who was transported to a local hospital where she died. Leising’s body was given a police escort and convoy from the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office to a funeral home in Wisconsin.

Additional officers responded and began searching the wooded area near the scene. Approximately an hour after Deputy Leising had been shot, an officer spotted Johnson, heard a gunshot, and witnessed Johnson collapse to the ground. During the search no officers discharged their weapons. A handgun was recovered at the scene where Johnson was located deceased.

St. Croix County Sheriff Scott Knutson said Leising had been with the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Officer since 2022, having previously served with the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office in South Dakota for two years.

“Our love and condolences go out to the family of Katie Leising and all those with whom she served,” Knduson said. “We will miss her infectious smile and personality. She will be missed by all she touched.”

The incident follows the deaths of officers Hunter Scheel and Emily Breidenbach, who were shot while conducting a traffic stop early last month in Barron County. Both died at the scene after an exchange of gunfire, while the suspect, 50-year-old Glenn Douglas Perry, later died at a hospital.

Agencies around the state posted messages of condolences Sunday after news of Leising’s death broke, including the Marathon County Sheriff’s Department.

“We extend our most sincere condolences to the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office and the family, friends and co-workers of Deputy Kaitie Leising,” a Facebook post reads. “Her sacrifice will not be forgotten. Please join us by extending your thoughts and prayers to her family and co-workers.”

The Wausau Police Department also posted a message. “Our hearts and prayers are with the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office and the St. Croix County community tonight. This needs to stop.”

The Columbia County Sheriff’s Department called Leising’s death “heartbreaking and sad.”

“Another brave hero killed for just doing her job,” a Facebook post said. “We are so proud of all the men and women that wear that badge and go out every day to protect our communities.”

DCI is leading this investigation and is assisted by numerous neighboring law enforcement agencies, Wisconsin State Patrol, Wisconsin State Crime Lab and a DCI Crime Response Specialist. All involved law enforcement are fully cooperating with DCI during this investigation.

DCI is continuing to review evidence and determine the facts of this incident and will turn over investigative reports to the St. Croix County District Attorney when the investigation concludes.