Police I.D. suspect wanted in slaying of New Mexico trooper on I-40

New Mexico State Police released a photo of 32-year-old Jaremy Smith of South Carolina, who is wanted in connection with Friday's slaying of New Mexico State Police Officer Justin Hare. Photo Courtesy New Mexico State Police
New Mexico State Police released a photo of 32-year-old Jaremy Smith of South Carolina, who is wanted in connection with Friday's slaying of New Mexico State Police Officer Justin Hare. Photo Courtesy New Mexico State Police

March 15 (UPI) -- Authorities on Saturday named a suspect in the killing of a New Mexico police officer Justin Hare, who was slain while assisting a motorist along Interstate 40.

New Mexico State Police said they are searching for 32-year-old Jaremy Smith of Marion, S.C., in connection with Hare's slaying on Friday.

Authorities said Hare was dispatched to I-40 near mile marker 318 to assist the suspected gunman, who was in a white BMW with a flat tire and trying to wave down motorists.

When Hare arrived, Smith exited the vehicle and approached the officer on the passenger side of his squad car.

New Mexico State Police Chief Troy Weisler told reporters Hare offered to give Smith a ride into town, at which point Smith allegedly pulled a gun and shot Hare. He then allegedly walked over to the driver's side and shot him again.

New Mexico State Police officer Justin Hare was shot and killed Friday on I-40. The suspect, 32-year-old Jaremy Smith of South Carolina, remains at large, authorities said. Photo courtesy of New Mexico State Police.
New Mexico State Police officer Justin Hare was shot and killed Friday on I-40. The suspect, 32-year-old Jaremy Smith of South Carolina, remains at large, authorities said. Photo courtesy of New Mexico State Police.

Police claimed Smith then pushed Hare into the passenger's seat and drove away in the patrol car.

An assisting officer responding to Hare's duress signal found the patrol car crashed on the side of the road near mile marker 304. The officer approached the vehicle and found it empty. Hare was later found along the highway and was transported to an area hospital where he later died from his injuries.

New Mexico State Police released a second photo of Smith, who is wanted in Friday's killing of New Mexico State Police officer Justin Hare on I-40. Photo courtesy of New Mexico State Police.
New Mexico State Police released a second photo of Smith, who is wanted in Friday's killing of New Mexico State Police officer Justin Hare on I-40. Photo courtesy of New Mexico State Police.

"The last words Officer Hare uttered on this earth was an offer to help the man who was about to kill him," Weisler said. "I am disgusted and sickened by the actions of this cold-blooded murderer. We are bringing every resource to bare to bring Officer Hare's killer to justice and we will not rest until that is done."

Smith, whom officers presume fled on foot after the crash, is still at large. He was last seen on an I-40 frontage road on foot between Montoya and Newkirk near mile marker 304.

Meanwhile, authorities in South Carolina on Saturday said the owner of the vehicle Smith was driving was found dead outside of Lake View, S.C., on Friday.

Paramedic Phonesia Machado-Fore's family reported her missing Thursday, and her body was found the next day, Marion County Sheriff Brain Wallace said in a statement.

"Mrs. Fore was one of us, a fellow first responder. Her death is senseless. Our community has suffered a tremendous loss," he said. "My team and I will not stop until we bring the person or persons responsible for her death to justice."

"This has to be an incredibly painful and horrific time for family and friends," New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said at a press conference Friday.

Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said on X, "I am heartbroken hearing the news of the NM state police officer officer shot and killed this morning. My prayers are with the department, family and friends of the fallen officer."

Hare is the first New Mexico State Police officer to be killed since officer Darian Jarrott was shot during a traffic stop in Deming, N.M., in February 2021. The officer was killed after Omar Felix Cueva led police on a high-speed chase. Cueva was shot to death by police.