Kentucky Rep. Dan Johnson died by “a probable suicide” Wednesday, just two days after he was accused of molestation of a teenage girl at a church he pastored.
He drove onto a bridge in a rural area southeast of Louisville, parked, walked out and shot himself with a 40-caliber semi-automatic handgun, Sheriff Donnie Tinnell told WDRB. Johnson was found with a single gunshot wound to the head, Bullitt County Coroner David Billings told the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Johnson's death comes after a report by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting revealed that a woman accused the Senator of sexually abusing her after a New Year’s party in 2013, when she was 17 years old.
The woman, Maranda Richmond, said she was sitting in a living area of Louisville’s Heart of Fire Church when Johnson, who served as pastor, began drunkenly kissing her and touching underneath her clothes.
Johnson told reporters on Tuesday that the accusations were “totally false,” but leaders of the state Republican and Democratic parties had called for the representative to resign.
Shortly before his death, Johnson posted a concerning message on social media. He denied the sexual abuse allegations and begged his family to stay strong for his wife.
"GOD and only GOD knows the truth, nothing is the way they make it out to be. AMERICA will not survive this type of judge and jury fake news. Conservatives take a stand," his post read, though it has since been deleted. "I LOVE GOD and I LOVE MY WIFE, who is the best WIFE in the world ... 9-11-2001 NYC/WTC, PTSD 24/7 16 years is a sickness that will take my life, I cannot handle it any longer."
Relatives became worried after reading the post and contacted law enforcement to intervene. Police pinged Johnson’s phone and later discovered his body, Billings said.
House Speaker Pro Tem David Osbourne told the Courier-Journal Wednesday night he had received confirmation of Johnson’s death.
"It is with great sadness that we have received confirmed reports of the passing of Rep. Dan Johnson this evening,” Osbourne said. “Please keep his family in your prayers during this incredibly difficult time."
Other fellow lawmakers in Kentucky mourned Johnson’s death on social media.
Saddened to hear of tonight’s death of KY Representative Dan Johnson...My heart breaks for his family tonight...These are heavy days in Frankfort and in America...May God indeed shed His grace on us all...We sure need it...— Governor Matt Bevin (@GovMattBevin) December 14, 2017
Just terrible news from Kentucky tonight on the passing of Rep. Dan Johnson. I cannot imagine his pain or the heartbreak his family is dealing with tonight. Kelley and I pray for his loved ones.— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) December 14, 2017
Billings said an autopsy is planned for Thursday.
Photo credit: Facebook / Dan Johnson