New Mexico State Police officer shot and killed on highway
Deming, N.M. – A New Mexico State Police officer making a traffic stop was fatally shot on a highway and the attacker was chased and later killed by authorities in a shootout, officials said.
The officer killed Thursday was identified as Darian Jarrott, who became a state police officer in 2015 after previously working as state transportation inspector and law enforcement officer.
The attacker was identified by authorities as Omar Felix Cueva, 39.
Jarrott, who was assisting U.S. Homeland Security Investigations on Thursday, made the traffic stop on Interstate 10 in southern Luna County between the cities of Las Cruces and Deming in New Mexico, a state police statement said.
A Homeland Security agent who arrived at the initial shooting scene notified the state police. After a state police officer spotted Cuevas’ pickup, officers from multiple law enforcement agencies chased it to the Las Cruces area, where there was an exchange of gunfire, the statement said.
Cueva was killed and a Las Cruces police officer was shot, suffering injuries that Las Cruces police spokesman Danny Trujillo said were not life-threatening.
The two shooting scenes were about 39 miles (63 kilometers) apart.
The state police statement did not indicate whether the traffic stop was related to Jarrott’s providing assistance to Homeland Security but New Mexico State Police Chief Robert Thornton told reporters that Cueva was on his way to Las Cruces to do a drug deal.
Cueva had “violent criminal history,” including drug trafficking charges, but not in New Mexico, Thornton said.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered all flags at state buildings lowered to half-staff from Friday to Tuesday in honor of Jarrott.
“Violent crime is a scourge on New Mexico, and the men and women who step up and put on the badge to protect our communities fight it with everything they’ve got every day,” Lujhan Grisham said in a statement. “We are and must remain grateful for their heroic service every single day – and moments like this remind us why.”
Jarrott was from the small community of Lordsburg and was stationed in Deming.
Thornton said the officer had a reputation for always having a smile on his face.
“Even when there was a situation that was tough, the guy was always smiling,” Thornton said.