‘A horrific murder spree’ in Johnson County leaves five dead, including the shooter

A man shot and killed two people at a residence in Jonson County, then went to an apartment where he killed two more people before turning the gun on himself, the Johnson County sheriff reported.

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

Price said in the post that Paintsville 911 got a call at 3:33 p.m. Saturday about a shooting in the McKenzie Branch community. When Price and two deputies arrived at the residence, they found two shooting victims dead in the kitchen.

A witness told the officers that the shooter, identified by the sheriff’s office as Joseph Nickell, left in a black Toyota Camry. The sheriff’s office, state police and Paintsville police worked together to search for the suspect, and other counties were notified to be on the lookout for the suspect, who was considered armed and dangerous.

During the search, someone called 911 to report that the Camry was on Mill Street in Paintsville. While searching the apartment complex where the vehicle was parked, Price said authorities found the bodies of two more shooting victims, along with that of Nickell, in an apartment.

The names of the four victims were not released, pending notification of the families.

Price said his office is working the case along with Kentucky State Police.

“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.”