Suspect in New Mexico State Police officer's murder caught after deputy-involved shooting: officials

New Mexico State Police officer Justin Hare was shot and killed early Saturday.

ByBill Hutchinson ABCNews logo
Sunday, March 17, 2024
Suspect in NM officer's murder caught after deputy-involved shooting
Jaremy Smith, wanted in the killings of a New Mexico state trooper and a South Carolina paramedic, was captured following a shooting involving police.

The suspect wanted in the killings of a New Mexico state trooper and a South Carolina paramedic was captured Sunday following a shooting involving law enforcement, authorities said.

The suspect, Jaremy Smith, was taken into custody in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, after leading police on a chase that resulted in a shooting involving at least one deputy from the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office, according to the New Mexico State Police.

Smith is suspected in the fatal shooting of New Mexico State Police officer Justin Hare early Friday and the slaying of Phonesia Machado-Fore, a South Carolina paramedic who was reported missing on Thursday, authorities said.

The suspect, who was identified on Saturday by police, was the subject of a massive manhunt. New Mexico State Police Chief Troy Weisler had said during a news conference, "Jaremy Smith, we are coming for you."

Bernalillo County Sheriff's deputies spotted Smith driving a car in Albuquerque at about 8 a.m. local time, officials said. Smith allegedly led deputies on a chase that ended in his arrest, according to authorities.

"The Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office is currently in the area of Unser and Anderson Hill for a deputy-involved shooting," the agency said in a social media post, referring to a neighborhood in southwest Albuquerque. "The Multi-Agency Task Force has initiated an investigation."

No deputies are injured were injured in the incident, officials said.

Smith has an "extensive" criminal history dating back decades in his home state and has ties to the Albuquerque area, Weisler said at a Saturday press conference.

When the trooper was murdered, Smith was driving a car belonging to Phonesia Machado-Fore, a missing South Carolina first responder.

Machado-Fore was found dead outside of Lake View in Dillon County on Friday after she had been reported missing by family, according to the Marion County Sheriff's Office. An autopsy has been scheduled for Monday.

Warrants were issued for Smith in the murder of Hare. Hare was fatally shot after responding to a call early Friday on Interstate 40, according to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Hare was killed after he was dispatched to help a person with a flat tire on Friday, according to police.

At around 5 a.m., Hare was dispatched to help a motorist in a white BMW who had a flat tire and had been attempting to wave down other motorists. At the scene, the suspect approached Hare's passenger side window and they had a short conversation about repairing his tire and possibly getting a ride back to town when the suspect -- without warning -- pulled out a firearm and shot Hare, Weisler said during a press conference Saturday.

The suspect then walked to the driver side of the car and shot Hare again. Smith then pushed Hare into the passenger seat and drove the patrol car away, with Hare still in the vehicle, according to Weisler.

When Hare did not return several attempts to contact him, an officer was sent to the scene. When the officer responded, he saw Hare's patrol car driving at a high speed on a fringe road which runs alongside the interstate. Hare also set off a distress signal, sending an emergency signal to dispatch, Weisler said.

The officer then took an exit and tried to catch up to the patrol car. When he caught up with the car it had crashed off the side of the road around mile post 304. But, the patrol car was empty as the suspect had fled and there was no sign of Hare, according to Weisler.

Hare was later found on the fringe road around mile post 312. He was transported to a hospital where he died, Weisler said.

The link was made between Hare's murder and the missing first responder when New Mexico State Police called the Marion County Sheriff's Office on Friday to inform them that Machado-Fore's car was involved in the murder of one of their officers.

Federal, state and local authorities worked together to identify the driver and locate Machado-Fore, ultimately finding her body in the course of their investigation.