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Suspect in fatal shooting of New Mexico State Police officer captured, authorities say

The man suspected of fatally shooting a New Mexico State Police officer last week was taken into custody after Bernalillo County deputies shot him during a foot pursuit Sunday morning, authorities said in a news conference.

The arrest of Jaremy Smith, 33, comes two days after State Police Officer Justin Hare was shot when he stopped to help the driver of a disabled vehicle – allegedly Smith – on Interstate 40. Investigators have determined that vehicle, a white BMW, belonged to Phonesia Machado-Fore, a South Carolina paramedic who was found dead there Friday evening, according to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.

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, Allen said.

“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.”

Smith was taken to a local hospital where he’s been treated for his injuries and remains under police guard, Allen said.

State Police Chief Troy Weisler said he was thankful no deputies were hurt Sunday in the encounter with Smith, adding state police would be focused in the coming days on determining whether anyone assisted the suspect.

New Mexico officials did not address the link to Machado-Fore’s death in their news conference Sunday. Authorities have not identified Smith as a suspect in that case, but the New Mexico State Police previously called him a “person of interest.” Marion County Sheriff Brian Wallace vowed to “not stop until we bring the person or persons responsible for her death to justice.”

Smith faces a slew of charges, New Mexico State Police previously said, including first-degree murder, armed robbery, shooting at or from a motor vehicle, tampering with evidence, felon in possession of a firearm, unlawful taking of a motor vehicle and criminal damage to property.

Officer shot ‘in cold blood’ while authorities searched for missing paramedic

New Mexico State Police Officer Justin Hare was shot and killed on Friday. - New Mexico State Police
New Mexico State Police Officer Justin Hare was shot and killed on Friday. - New Mexico State Police

Hare, a father of two who graduated from the police recruit school in 2018, was sent around 5 a.m. Friday to help a driver with a flat tire who was trying to wave down other motorists on Interstate 40 near Tucumcari in eastern New Mexico, Weisler said in a video statement.

Hare parked behind Smith’s vehicle, and Smith approached the officer’s passenger side window, Weisler said, where the two had a brief conversation about fixing the flat. Hare offered to give Smith a ride to town, Weisler said.

Smith then took out a gun and shot Hare, Weisler said, before walking to the driver’s side of the officer’s vehicle and shooting Hare again. Smith pushed Hare into the passenger seat and drove away in the patrol vehicle, Weisler said.

Another state police officer saw Hare’s patrol car traveling west at high speed while responding to the scene, state police said in a news release. When that officer caught up with Hare’s vehicle, it had crashed. Smith was thought to have fled on foot, the release said, while Hare was found nearby and taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

“On a cold, dark and windy morning, he offered help to a person he thought was in need,” Weisler said Saturday at a news conference. “That person killed him in cold blood. The last words Officer Hare uttered on this earth was to offer help to a man who was about to kill him.”

Phonesia Machado-Fore was found dead Friday evening, the Marion County, South Carolina, sheriff's office said. - Marion County Sheriff's Office
Phonesia Machado-Fore was found dead Friday evening, the Marion County, South Carolina, sheriff's office said. - Marion County Sheriff's Office

While police in New Mexico searched for Smith, authorities in South Carolina were searching for Machado-Fore, whose family reported her missing Thursday evening, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said.

On Friday morning, New Mexico State Police told Marion County investigators that Machado-Fore’s vehicle was involved in Hare’s shooting, the sheriff’s office said on Facebook. Her body was found later Friday evening, outside of Lake View in Dillon County, the sheriff’s office said.

Wallace, the sheriff, called Machado-Fore’s death “senseless,” and a “tremendous loss” for the community. The case, he said, is “far from over.”

New Mexico State Police and South Carolina officials are working to discover any relationship between the two cases, Weisler previously said.

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Rebekah Riess contributed to this report.

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