South Lake Tahoe Police Department IDs detectives in officer-involved shooting
Authorities have released the names of two South Lake Tahoe police detectives involved in the fatal shooting of a man suspected of committing a violent crime spree prior to the incident.
Veteran law enforcement officers Jake Herminghaus and Ross Molesworth, both detectives with the South Lake Tahoe Police Department, shot 34-year-old Billy Jo Johnson Oct. 29 after Johnson fired at the detectives and led them on a high-speed chase, according to Lt. Shannon Laney with the South Lake Tahoe Police Department.
The two detectives were heading to Markleeville to conduct possible surveillance on Johnson, who was wanted for attempted armed robbery and vehicle theft in South Lake Tahoe, a robbery in Carson City, and a home invasion burglary in Douglas County.
Herminghaus and Molesworth were heading in that direction when they saw Johnson riding his motorcycle on California Route 89 near Luther Pass, Laney said.
When the detectives attempted to follow Johnson he started shooting at them. That initiated a high speed chase down California Route 89 to U.S. 50 toward Meyers.
Johnson stopped on North Upper Truckee Road and the detectives chased him on foot. He was shot during the chase and ultimately pronounced dead at the scene.
No witnesses or officers were injured during the incident.
Laney told the Tribune Tuesday it was clear Johnson fired multiple shots at the detectives but he could not say if shots were fired during the foot-chase because the case is still under investigation.
“It was a fluid scene,” he said.
The two detectives are currently on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. Neither has been involved in a prior officer-involved shooting during their time with SLTPD, Laney said.
Herminghaus is 14-year veteran of the department and Molesworth has been with SLTPD for 18 years, according to Laney.
The El Dorado Sheriff’s Department, California Highway Patrol and the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office are all participating in the investigation.
In addition to the multi-agency investigation, SLTPD will conduct its own internal affairs investigation.
Laney said it’s possible the detectives could be back at work, depending on the case, before the DA’s office decides if the shooting was justified.
Support Local Journalism
Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.