Manhunt for suspect after New Mexico State Police trooper fatally shot on highway

A New Mexico State Police officer was shot and killed on a highway near the small town of Tucumcari, and a search for a “weaponized and dangerous” suspect continued Friday.

Officer Justin Hare, 35, was responding to a call about a driver who was waving for help to other drivers on Interstate 40 when he was shot without warning.

Weissler said in a video released late Friday that the suspect, identified as Jeremy Smith, 32, went into the passenger side of Hare's patrol vehicle.

“There was a brief conversation about getting his tire fixed, and Officer Hare offered to drive the suspect into town. Then without warning, the suspect pulled out a gun and shot Officer Hare,” Weissler said.

The gunman pushed Hare into the passenger seat and drove off in the patrol vehicle, which was later found abandoned, Weissler said.

New Mexico State Police issued an arrest warrant for Smith, of Marion, South Carolina, for criminal damage to a vehicle and property.

No arrests were reported.

Authorities shared photos of the suspect, last seen on foot on the I-40 frontage road at milepost 304 between Montoya and Newkirk, and warned people not to approach him, but to call 911 immediately.

He was last seen wearing a brown hoodie and jacket, state police said.

As Hare's body was taken to the University of New Mexico Medical Examiner's Office for an autopsy, authorities from across the region lined the roadsides along the way to pay their respects, the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office said.

Gov. Michael Lujan Grisham said the news broke his heart and offered condolences to his family and friends.

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Lt. Gov. Howie Morales Said in X“I am shocked and deeply saddened by this terrible loss.”

Anyone with information or background information on the suspect is asked to call state police.

Weisler, the state police chief, said in a late night video that the gunman was a “cold-blooded murderer.”

“We are bringing all the evidence we have to bring Officer Hare's killer to justice and we will not rest until it is done,” he said.

Hare grew up in Logan and Moriarty, New Mexico, Weissler said, and graduated from state police recruit school in 2018.

He has parents, a girlfriend and two young children.

Tucumcari is 115 miles west of Amarillo, Texas.

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