Authorities are seeking a suspect now identified in a New Mexico state police officer’s killing

Mar 16, 2024, 12:05 PM

ALBUEQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico State police said Saturday they have identified the suspect in the shooting death of one of their officers as a 33-year-old South Carolina man who was driving a car that belonged to a woman killed in his home state.

State Police Chief Troy Weisler said during a news conference that authorities are seeking Jaremy Smith of Marion, of South Carolina, in the fatal shooting of Officer Justin Hare, 35. Smith was considered armed and dangerous.

Authorities said Hare was dispatched about 5 a.m. Friday to help a motorist in a white BMW with a flat tire on Interstate 40, west of Tucumcari.

Hare parked behind the BMW, and the suspect got out, approached the patrol car on the passenger side, then shot the officer without warning. They said the suspect 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 were alerted to the shooting by a “duress signal” coming from Hare’s radio, Weisler said. The arriving officer found the abandoned patrol car, and later the wounded officer farther back on a frontage road near the interstate. Hare was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Weisler said his department later learned that the white BMW was reported missing in South Carolina and that it belonged to a woman who was killed there, paramedic Phonesia Machado-Fore. New Mexico State police are in contact with South Carolina authorities, he said, but there was no word on whether Smith had been charged in the earlier killing.

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

The Dillon County Coroner’s Office has scheduled an autopsy for Monday.

New Mexico State police issued an arrest warrant for Smith on charges of first-degree murder, armed robbery, shooting at or from a motor vehicle, tampering with evidence, being a felon possessing a firearm, unlawful taking of a motor vehicle and criminal damage to property.

Weisler said Smith had ties to New Mexico, having spent time there in the past, and had a long criminal history.

Hare had been with the state police agency since 2018. Born and raised in New Mexico, he is survived by his parents, girlfriend, and their two young children.

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Authorities are seeking a suspect now identified in a New Mexico state police officer’s killing