Two New Mexico Police Officers Killed in Line of Duty Year to Date


The month of March has been a difficult month for first responders in New Mexico. The year began in January and February of 2024 with no loss of life with the police officers serving our New Mexico community.

March, however, has been difficult with the Las Cruces police department experiencing the tragic death of Officer Jonah Hernandez who was attacked by a knife-wielding suspect and stabbed to death; a bystander then shot and killed the suspect.

Patrol Officer Jonah Hernandez was stabbed to death while responding to a trespassing call at the 300 block of South Valley Drive in Las Cruces.

A witness to the stabbing shot the suspect while another witness called 911 for help.

Officer Hernandez was transported to Mountain View Regional Medical Center where he died from a knife wound to his neck.

The subject had a lengthy criminal record and mental illness.

Officer Hernandez’s end of watch was  Sunday, February 11, 2024 with badge number 989 at the age of 35. 

Officer Hernandez had served with the Las Cruces Police Department for two years. He was survived by his wife and two sons.

Then, just days later,  on March 15th, 2024 the New Mexico State Police lost Patrolman Justin Hare. 

Patrolman Justin Hare was shot and killed at about 5:30 am while conducting a welfare check on a disabled vehicle that was stopped near mile marker 320 on I-40, west of Tucumcari.

As Patrolman Hare stopped behind the vehicle, the driver exited and walked to the cruiser's passenger window. The two had a short discussion, and as Patrolman Hare offered to drive the man into town, the subject suddenly produced a handgun and shot him. He shot him a second time before pushing him into the passenger seat. He then abducted him and stole the patrol car, abandoning it approximately 16 miles away and fleeing on foot.

Patrolman Hare was taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to his wounds two hours later.

Unbeknownst to Patrolman Hare, the man was the suspect in the murder of an off-duty paramedic in South Carolina several days earlier. The car he was driving belonged to the murder victim. The subject was arrested two days later after exchanging gunfire with a Bernalillo County sheriff's deputy.

Patrolman Hare’s End of Watch Friday was March 15, 2024, he was age 35. 
Patrolman Hare had served with the New Mexico State Police for six years. He is survived by his girlfriend, two children, mother, father, and brother.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered flags in the state to fly at half-staff in honor of fallen Las Cruces Police Officer Jonah Hernandez, who was killed in the line of duty on Sunday, Feb. 11. The governor ordered flags to half-staff from Wednesday, Feb. 14 until Monday, Feb. 19.

And then again, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order directing all United States and state flags to be flown at half-staff through sundown Monday in honor ofNew Mexico State Police Justin Hare March 19 thru 25, 2024.

The state of New Mexico morns the death of these two officers in the line of duty. 

Fewer police officers died in the line of duty in 2023  and fewer than 50 were fatally shot on the job, according to a report released  by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

According to the report, 136 federal, state, county, municipal, military, tribal and campus officers died in the line of duty in 2023, a 39% decrease from the year before.

The report found 47 officers were killed by gunfire, 37 died in traffic-related incidents and 52 died from “other causes” such as medical events, aircraft crashes and other forms of violence.

To learn more visit the National Law Enforcement Officers Fund at…

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