Suspect in fatal shooting of New Mexico State Police officer captured: officials

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The suspect wanted in the murderers of a New Mexico state trooper and a South Carolina paramedic was captured Sunday after an eagle-eyed gas station attendant called 911, authorities said.

The suspect, Jaremy Smith, was arrested in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, after leading police on a foot chase that resulted in him being shot and wounded by at least one Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office deputy. according to the state of New Mexico. Police.

Smith is a suspect in the shooting death of New Mexico State Police Trooper Justin Hare early Friday and the murder of Phonesia Machado-Fore, a South Carolina paramedic who was reported missing Thursday, police said. authorities.

The 33-year-old suspect, who was identified by police on Saturday, was the subject of a massive manhunt. Smith’s arrest came less than 24 hours after New Mexico State Police Chief Troy Weisler said, “Jaremy Smith, we’re coming after you.”

“Yesterday we said we would bring Jaremy Smith to justice. There was nowhere he could run and there was nowhere to hide,” Weisler said during a news conference. “Today, thanks to our community and our law enforcement partners, we were able to achieve this.”

Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen said an employee at a Murphy Express gas station in Albuquerque recognized a customer matching Smith’s description around 7 a.m. local time Sunday and called police. When officers arrived at the scene, they saw Smith walking down a street in a residential neighborhood and immediately began setting up a perimeter, Allen said.

“A foot chase ensued, shots were fired. Some shots hit Smith. We don’t know the number at this time or how many. That’s still under investigation,” he said.

Allen said Smith was taken to a local hospital, where he was under surveillance and receiving treatment.

“When a law enforcement officer is killed anywhere in the state of New Mexico, we show up as a unified front,” Allen said, praising the work of federal, state and local authorities “who worked as a team to make sure we brought tosomeone”. “That was very dangerous for the public, for all of our communities, to be in custody.”

No officers were injured in the incident, authorities said.

Murphy Express gas station employee Samentha Reynolds told ABC News she called 911 after carding Smith when she bought a pack of cigarettes and used her real ID.

Reynolds said he recognized Smith immediately from his wanted signs and confirmed his suspicions from Jaremy’s unusual spelling on his driver’s license.

“I was nervous. I was scared. I didn’t know if he was armed. Actually, when I picked him up, I was like, ‘Is he going to shoot me?'” Reynolds said. “But he wanted to do what was right for the family. [of Officer Hare]for my community and to support blue.”

Hare was shot and killed around 5 a.m. Friday after responding to a call to help a disabled motorist on Interstate 40 near Tucumcari, about 235 miles east of Albuquerque, near the Texas border, police said. authorities.

When Hare pulled up behind the disabled BMW, the suspect exited the vehicle and approached the officer’s passenger side window, Weisler said.

“A brief conversation ensued about fixing his tire and possibly getting a ride back to town when, without warning, the suspect pulled out a firearm and shot Officer Hare,” Weisler said during Saturday’s news conference. .

The suspect then walked to the driver’s side of the patrol car and allegedly shot Hare again, Weisler said. He alleged that Smith pushed Hare into the passenger seat and took off in the patrol car with the fatally wounded officer.

When Hare did not respond to several attempts to contact him, an officer was dispatched to the scene and saw Hare’s patrol car driving at a high rate of speed on a secondary road along Interstate 40, Weisler said. Hare managed to emit a distress signal, sending an emergency signal to dispatch, police said.

Police eventually located the crashed and empty patrol car, Weisler said. Hare was later found seriously injured on the side of a road and taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

During the investigation, police learned that the car Smith was driving at the time of the encounter with Hare was registered to Machado-Fore, a paramedic with Florence County, South Carolina, Emergency Medical Service, authorities said.

Machado-Fore was found dead outside Lake View in Dillon County, South Carolina, on Friday after her family reported her missing, according to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. The autopsy is scheduled for Monday.

Smith has an “extensive” criminal history dating back decades in South Carolina and has ties to the Albuquerque area, Weisler said.

Prior to Smith’s arrest, warrants were issued charging him with Hare’s murder.

Weisler said the investigation continues and police are looking for anyone who helped Smith get to Albuquerque.

“We will search tirelessly for any LEDs and anyone we discover was involved in that,” Weisler said.

Hare’s girlfriend, Daizzare, the mother of his two daughters and who is pregnant with his third child, issued a statement Sunday describing Hare as “an incredible son, father, spouse and police officer.”

“The role he played in the lives of his family and loved ones will never be forgotten,” he wrote. “The fact that he put his heart into everything he did was the epitome of who Justin was. It’s very difficult to express his life and who he was in paragraphs because he was indescribable.”

She added: “Justin loved me and our family. He always went out of his way to ensure we had everything we needed. Not just financially or materially, but he was constantly present. He always let the girls and I know that we were their priority”. “.

ABC News’ Clarissa Gonzalez contributed to this report.

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