5 dead after ‘horrific murder spree’ in Johnson County


PAINTSVILLE, Ky. (KT) – A Johnson County community was rocked by a “horrific murder spree” that left five dead on Saturday night.


A man shot and killed two people at a home in the McKenzie Branch community, then went to an apartment and killed two more people before turning the gun on himself, according to Johnson County Sheriff Dwayne Price.

“This has been a horrific murder spree. The lives of four innocent victims were taken. The perpetrator then took his own life,” Price said in a Facebook post Saturday night.

Paintsville 911 received a call at 3:33 p.m. Saturday about a shooting in the McKenzie Branch area. Price and two deputies arrived at the home and found two shooting victims dead in the kitchen.

The shooter was identified by the sheriff’s office as Joseph Nickell. Witnesses said he left the scene in a black Toyota Camry. The sheriff’s office, Kentucky State Police and Paintsville police searched for the suspect together and notified neighboring counties to be on the lookout for Nickell who was considered armed and dangerous.

The car was spotted on Mill Street in Paintsville near an apartment complex. Authorities found the bodies of two more shooting victims, along with Nickell, inside one of the apartments.

“There are no words to describe the heartbreak in seeing four lives taken due to the actions of one man,” Price wrote. “I have worked in law enforcement for 34 years. This is one of the most disturbing acts of violence I have ever seen.”

The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office and KSP are working the case.


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