NM State Police officer killed in apparent ambush by driver he tried to help, police say

Mar 16, 2024, 9:30 AM

New Mexico State Police Officer Justin Hare...

New Mexico State Police Officer Justin Hare was shot and killed on Friday. (New Mexico State Police via CNN Newsource)

(New Mexico State Police via CNN Newsource)

(TUCUMCARI, New Mexico, CNN)A New Mexico State Police officer was fatally shot early Friday when he offered to help the driver of a disabled vehicle, who responded by shooting the officer twice and driving off with his patrol car, authorities said.

An arrest warrant has been issued for 32-year-old Jaremy Smith, of Marion, South Carolina, the “armed and dangerous” man wanted in the apparent ambush attack on Interstate 40 that killed Officer Justin Hare, New Mexico State Police said.

“The last words that officer uttered on this earth was an offer to help the man who was about to kill him,” State Police Chief Troy Weisler said in a video message. “I am disgusted, and I am sickened by the actions of this cold-blooded murderer. We are bringing every resource to bear to bring Officer Hare’s killer to justice, and we will not rest until that is done.”

Around 5 a.m. local time, Hare was dispatched to assist a motorist who had a flat tire and was attempting to wave down other motorists on the interstate near Tucumcari in eastern New Mexico, Weisler said.

When Hare arrived, he parked behind Smith’s disabled vehicle. Smith approached Hare’s passenger side window, Weisler said.

“A short conversation ensued about repairing his tire, and Officer Hare offered to give the suspect a ride to town,” Weisler said.

Jaremy Smith is wanted in the killing of Officer Justin Hare, according to New Mexico State Police. (New Mexico State Police via CNN Newsource)


Then, without warning, Smith pulled out a firearm and shot Hare, and walked to the driver’s side and shot the officer again, before pushing Hare into the passenger seat and driving away in the patrol vehicle, Weisler said. The car was abandoned a short time later, Weisler said.

Smith is facing charges of first-degree murder, armed robbery, shooting at or from a motor vehicle, armed robbery, tampering with evidence, felon in possession of a firearm, unlawful taking of a motor vehicle and criminal damage to property, police said.

Hare, who graduated from police recruit school in 2018, is survived by his parents, his girlfriend and two young children, the police chief said.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham acknowledged the death of the officer on X and offered her “heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and fellow officers at this most difficult time.”

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NM State Police officer killed in apparent ambush by driver he tried to help, police say