New Mexico authorities detain man in fatal shooting of state police officer

A portrait of Jaremy Smith is displayed beside U.S. Attorney for New Mexico Alexander Uballez, left, on Saturday, March 16, 2024, as Public Safety Secretary Jason Bowie gives a briefing following the death of New Mexico State Police officer Justin Hare, in Albuquerque, N.M. The suspect in the shooting death of a state police officer has been captured in a Sunday-morning, March 17, confrontation on the west side of Albuquerque, the New Mexico State Police announced Sunday. (Jon Austria/The Albuquerque Journal via AP)

A portrait of Jaremy Smith is displayed beside U.S. Attorney for New Mexico Alexander Uballez, left, on Saturday, March 16, 2024, as Public Safety Secretary Jason Bowie gives a briefing following the death of New Mexico State Police officer Justin Hare, in Albuquerque, N.M. The suspect in the shooting death of a state police officer has been captured in a Sunday-morning, March 17, confrontation on the west side of Albuquerque, the New Mexico State Police announced Sunday. (Jon Austria/The Albuquerque Journal via AP)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A suspect in the shooting death of a New Mexico state police officer was captured Sunday by law enforcement officers in the Albuquerque area based on a tip from a gas station clerk, authorities said.

The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office detained 33-year-old Jaremy Smith of Marion, South Carolina, in the southwestern reaches of Albuquerque after the clerk notified authorities of a man who fit Smith’s description, Sheriff John Allen said at a brief news conference.

South Carolina authorities have identified Smith as a person of interest in the killing of a local paramedic whose stolen car was involved in Friday’s fatal shooting of New Mexico State Police Officer Justin Hare along Interstate 40 west of Tucumcari.

Allen said Smith was located walking on the outskirts of a residential area and was wounded by gunfire as officers pursued him on foot. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment under police guard. No medical condition was given.

“A foot pursuit ensued,” Allen said. “Shots were fired. Some shots strike Smith, we don’t know the amount right now or how many, that’s still under investigation. But Smith was then taken into custody without further incident.”

State Police Chief Troy Weisler said an investigation is in the early stages about Smith’s movements since the fatal shooting of Hare but that the detention Sunday allows people an opportunity to begin to grieve for the slain officer. Weisler and Allen did not discuss possible criminal charges and declined to provide further information.

“Everything is really preliminary right now on the investigation, so we’re not going to get into any of the details,” Weisler said.

Authorities said Hare was dispatched about 5 a.m. Friday to help a motorist in a white BMW with a flat tire on I-40.

Hare parked behind the BMW, and a man got out, approached the patrol car on the passenger side, then shot the officer without warning. They said the motorist then walked to the driver’s side of the police vehicle, shot Hare again, and pushed him into the back seat before taking off in the patrol vehicle.

State Police later learned that the white BMW was reported missing in South Carolina and that it belonged to a woman who was killed there last week, Phonesia Machado-Fore, 52, a Marion County paramedic.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office in South Carolina has reported on its Facebook page that Machado-Fore’s body was found about 6:15 p.m. Friday outside of Lake View in neighboring Dillon County. Her family had reported her missing Thursday evening. The Dillon County Coroner’s Office has scheduled an autopsy for Monday.

Marion County Sheriff Brian Wallace on Sunday said he was relieved to learn of Smith’s detention.

“I believe that I speak for many here in Marion County when I tell you that I am overwhelmed with relief knowing that Jaremy Smith is in custody,” Wallace said in a statement posted on Facebook. “At this time, Marion County Sheriff’s Office has no charges on Jaremy Smith. Therefore, he will remain in the custody of New Mexico State Police to face charges.”

A call to the public defenders’ office in New Mexico was not answered and it was unclear whether Smith had a legal representative.

In a news release, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham expressed gratitude to the person who spotted Smith and reported to authorities, calling the suspect’s detention a “major step toward justice” for Hare’s family.

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