Suspect accused of killing New Mexico police officer captured after shootout

Authorities have called Jaremy Smith the ‘suspect responsible for the murder’ of paramedic Phonesia Machado-Fore and New Mexico State Police Officer Justin Hare

Kelly Rissman
Sunday 17 March 2024 19:58 GMT
Jaremy Smith was captured after a days-long manhunt
Jaremy Smith was captured after a days-long manhunt (New Mexico State Police)

A manhunt for the person accused of killing two people on opposite sides of the country — a New Mexico police officer and a South Carolina paramedic — has come to an end, authorities said.

Jaremy Alexander Smith, the “suspect responsible for the murder” of paramedic Phonesia Machado-Fore and New Mexico State Police Officer Justin Hare, was found on 17 March, two days after Officer Hare was killed, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office wrote.

The New Mexico State Police had issued warrants for his arrest, charging him with first-degree murder, armed robbery, felon in possession of a firearm, and unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, among others. He had been described as “armed and dangerous” by police.

Officers captured Mr Smith after a store clerk in Albuquerque, New Mexico spotted him.

Police arrived at the scene, and chased the suspect on foot, when gunfire erupted, leading to Mr Smith being struck and apprehended. He was then taken to a local hospital where he is being treated for his injuries, the sheriff’s office wrote.

The man suspected of killing Justin Hare was captured (Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office)

The capture comes days after Machado-Fore was first reported missing on the evening of 14 March in South Carolina.

The following morning around 5am, New Mexico State Police Officer Justin Hare was dispatched to Interstate 40 to assist a motorist in a white BMW who had a flat tire. Hare approached the driver — who was identified later as Mr Smith.

“A short conversation ensued about repairing his tire when, without warning, Smith pulled out a firearm and shot Officer Hare,” police wrote. The officer was later found at the side of the road and then was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Police then linked the two murders, as Mr Smith was driving the South Carolina paramedic’s BMW.

In the evening of 15 March, her body was found in Dillon County, South Carolina, authorities said. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday.

The suspected killer of Phonesia Machado-Fore was captured (Marion County Sheriff’s Office - South Carolina)

Mr Smith has an “extensive” criminal history in South Carolina and has ties to the Albuquerque area, New Mexico State Police Chief Troy Weisler said at a press conference.

“Mrs Fore was one of us, a fellow first responder. Her death is senseless. Our community has suffered a tremendous loss. My team and I will not stop until we bring the person or persons responsible for her death to justice,” Marion County Sheriff Brian Wallace wrote in a statement after her body was recovered.

After Mr Smith’s capture, Marion County Sheriff’s Office called Mr Smith a “person of interest” in the murder of Machado-Fore, but said the office did not press charges against him.

The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office said it extended “its deepest condolences to the family of Officer Justin Hare and to the New Mexico State Police for their loss. We also stand with the family of Phenesia Machado-Fore in their time of grief.”

Jaremy Smith was captured after a days-long manhunt (New Mexico State Police)

An investigation into the incident is still underway.

“We will be tirelessly searching for any leads and any individuals that we discover were involved” with assisting Mr Smith in getting from one side of the country to the other, Mr Weisler said.

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