Murderer of NMSP Officer Justin Hare Apprehended Sunday


Suspect Jaremy Smith was captured in the  suspected shooting death of New Mexico State Police officer Justin Hare. He was captured Sunday by law enforcement officers in the Albuquerque area based on a tip from a gas station clerk, authorities said.

Officer Hare was fatally shot “in cold blood” early Friday when he offered to help the driver of a disabled vehicle, who shot the officer twice and drove off in his patrol car with the officer still inside.

The disabled vehicle turned out to be a white BMW that belonged to a first responder in South Carolina who was found dead Friday evening, authorities said.

An arrest warrant had been issued for 33-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.

On Sunday, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office received a report around 7 a.m. from a gas station clerk in Albuquerque, who described an individual matching Smith’s description, Sheriff John Allen said at a news conference. Deputies found Smith walking and began creating a perimeter in a nearby neighborhood.

During this time, as they had an eye on Mr. Smith, a foot pursuit ensued,” Allen said. “Shots were fired. Some shots (struck) Smith – we don’t know the amount right now, or how many. That’s still under investigation.”

The incident leading to the murder of the Officer Justin Hare, 35, began with him being shot around 5 a.m. local time Friday morning when he responded to a call of a driver with a flat tire on Interstate 40 near milepost 318, state police previously said. He was shot without warning and died after being transported to a local hospital.

Details of the incident from New Mexico State Police Chief Troy Weisler said Hare was gunned down around 5 a.m. Friday after answering a call to help a disabled motorist on Interstate 40 near Tucumcari, about 235 miles east of Albuquerque near the Texas border.

Smith approached the passenger side of Hare’s patrol vehicle and, after a short conversation in which Hare offered him a ride to town, Smith allegedly opened fire without warning.

Smith allegedly walked to the driver’s side, opened fire on the officer again, pushed him to its passenger side, got in the patrol vehicle and drove off, the chief said.

Hare was not responding to radio traffic and later appeared to have been able to depress a panic button common on police radios, alerting colleagues to his situation, Weisler said.

A responding officer saw Hare’s patrol vehicle traveling in the opposite direction and tried to catch up, but by the time the officer reached the vehicle, it had crashed on an interstate frontage road and was abandoned, he said.

Hare was found along the same frontage road, the chief said. He was taken to a hospital, where he died at 7:21 a.m. Friday, state police said in a statement.

The suspect had vanished and a manhunt entailed until the tip came in Sunday morning resulting in the capture of the suspect.

Smith has a criminal history in South Carolina, including allegations of hostage taking, burglary and armed robbery, Weisler said. He also has spent time in Albuquerque, he said.

The vehicle with the flat tire belonged to a paramedic in Marion County, South Carolina — Phonesia Machado-Fore, 52 — who was found murdered Friday after she was reported missing from the area, the chief said.

Smith is a person of interest in the South Carolina case.

Smith will be arraigned in Albuquerque and tried in New Mexico upon conviction and sentencing he then may be charged in the South Carolina case. Authorities from law enforcement agencies in both states are collaborating according to a state spokesperson.

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's girlfriend, Daizzare, the mother of his two daughters who is pregnant with their third child, released a statement Sunday describing Hare as "an amazing son, father, spouse and Police Officer."

"The role he played in the lives of his family and those close to him will never be forgotten," she wrote. "The fact that he put his heart into every single thing that he did was the epitome of who Justin was. It's so hard to put his life and who he was into paragraphs because he was indescribable."

She added, "Justin loved me and our family. He always went above and beyond to ensure we had everything we needed. Not just financially or materialistic, but he was constantly present. He always let the girls and I know that we were his priority."

Hare's body was taken to the University of New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator for examination, officers from across the region lined roadways along the route in a show of respect, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office said.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said the news left her heartbroken, and offered her condolences to his family and friends.

Lt. Gov. Howie Morales said on X, “I am shocked and deeply saddened by the terrible loss.”

A new press 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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