Fallen Ore. reserve officer was correctional officer with extensive volunteer history
In addition to his corrections work, reserve officer Joseph Johnson volunteered as a firefighter and contributed to his community as a private security officer
Duty Death: Joseph Johnson - [Nyssa]
End of Service: 15/04/2023
By Austin De Dios
NYSSA, Ore. — Joseph Johnson, the reserve police officer fatally shot on duty in Nyssa, will be remembered for his extensive service to his community.
Johnson, 43, served many public service roles over his career.
“Joe was greatly admired and respected professionally, and personally,” Heidi Steward, the Department of Corrections deputy director, wrote in an email to staff Sunday.
He had worked as a volunteer reserve officer with the Nyssa Police Department since 2018. The department awarded him the Outstanding Performance Award last year.
Johnson started his career as a correctional officer at Snake River Correctional Institution in 2007, according to a statement from acting Superintendent Joe Woodland. He became a behavioral health specialist with the prison in 2022.
In addition to his corrections work, Johnson taught criminal justice and psychology courses as an adjunct instructor at Treasure Valley Community College.
He also volunteered as a firefighter and contributed to his community as a private security officer and therapeutic counselor, Woodland said.
“When we talk of taking action to better your community, we should look no further than to the legacy of Officer Joseph Johnson,” said Sen. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, and Rep. Mark Owens, R-Crane, in a joint statement.
Johnson was responding to a disturbance call Saturday evening in Nyssa, and arrived at the scene to learn the suspect drove off. He pursued the man, identified as Rene Castro, who allegedly shot Johnson when both men pulled over at the corner of Locust Avenue and North 3rd Street.
Castro fled and wasn’t found and arrested until Monday morning.
Johnson is the first officer killed in the line of duty in Malheur County since 1957, the Malheur Enterprise reported.
John Mosqueda, who worked with Johnson for 12 years at Snake River, said he was one of the most supportive people he’s ever known.
Mosqueda lost his son two years ago after he was shot and killed in Boise, Idaho. He said Johnson played an important role in helping him and his family through the difficult time.
“I know, with my circumstances and my family, if I ever needed a shoulder to talk to about my son, it was never a question of whether or not he would help or listen,” Mosqueda said. “He was always just a good solid guy. What happened to him has hit me hard.”
He loved his family and his community, Mosqueda said. Johnson, whose friends called him JJ, is survived by his wife and two children.
The Nyssa Police Department is working with the Oregon Fallen Badge Foundation to provide financial assistance to Johnson’s family.
“He just wanted to take care of his family and make sure his community was the best it could be,” Mosqueda said.