New Mexico Police Officer Fatally Shot by Driver He Tried to Help with Flat Tire

Officer Justin Hare and Jeremy Smith
Officer Justin Hare (left) and Jeremy Smith. Twitter

A New Mexico State Police officer was fatally shot "in cold blood" early Friday when he offered to help the driver of a disabled vehicle, who shot the officer twice and drove off in his patrol car with the officer still inside, authorities said.

The suspect, 33-year-old Jeremy Smith of Marion, South Carolina, was captured Sunday by law enforcement officers in the Albuquerque area after a gas station clerk notified authorities of a man who fit Smith's description, authorities said. The deceased officer was identified as Officer Justin Hare, New Mexico State Police confirmed.

Hare was Trying to Help Smith with a Flat Tire When He was Shot 'Without Warning'

Authorities said Hare was dispatched about 5 a.m. Friday to help a motorist in a white BMW with a flat tire on I-40. Hare parked behind the BMW, and a man got out, approached the patrol car on the passenger side.

"A short conversation ensued about repairing his tire, and Officer Hare offered to give the suspect a ride to town," Chief Troy Weisler said.

Then, without warning, Smith shot the officer. He then walked over to the driver's side of the police vehicle, shot Hare again and pushed him into the back seat before taking off in the patrol vehicle.

Smith had fled on foot and there was no sign of Hare. The officer was later found on the frontage road of Interstate 40 and taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he died, according to Weisler.

Car Driven by Smith Belonged to a Paramedic Who was Found Dead in South Carolina

The disabled vehicle turned out to be a white BMW that belonged to a first responder in South Carolina who was found dead Friday evening, authorities said. The white BMW was reported missing in South Carolina and belonged to a woman who was killed there last week, Phonesia Machado-Fore, 52, a Marion County paramedic.

The Marion County Sheriff's Office in South Carolina reported on its Facebook page that Machado-Fore's body was found about 6:15 p.m. Friday, outside of Lake View in neighboring Dillon County. Her family had reported her missing Thursday evening. The Dillon County Coroner's Office has scheduled an autopsy for Monday.

Allen said Smith was located walking on the outskirts of a residential area and was wounded by gunfire as officers pursued him on foot. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment under police guard. No medical condition was given.

Smith is facing charges of first-degree murder, armed robbery, shooting at or from a motor vehicle, armed robbery, tampering with evidence, felon in possession of a firearm, unlawful taking of a motor vehicle and criminal damage to property, police said.