Las Cruces, NM – New Mexico State Police (NMSP) Officer Darian Jarrott was killed in the line of duty on Thursday after being shot while conducting a traffic stop.
The attack occurred at approximately 12:30 p.m., as Officer Jarrott was assisting U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the NMSP said in a press release on Thursday night.
Officer Jarrott, 28, initiated a traffic stop on a white Chevrolet pickup truck near mile marker 101 on Interstate 10 eastbound, according to police.
The driver of the suspect vehicle, later identified as 39-year-old Omar Felix Cueva, then fired at least one round at Officer Jarrott, killing him, the NMSP said.
Cueva fled the scene shortly before a HSI agent pulled up and found the murdered officer, according to police.
The agent immediately broadcasted the suspect vehicle information to state and local law enforcement agencies.
After other NMSP officers spotted Cueva’s vehicle near mile marker 116, the suspect pulled over and opened fire on them, according to the press release.
The officers returned fire just before the suspect led them on a pursuit down Interstate 10.
As the chase closed in on mile marker 135 near Las Cruces, NMSP successfully used tire-deflating devices on Cueva’s vehicle.
The gunman continued his attempted escape as law enforcement officers from the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO), the U.S. Border Patrol, (USBP), and the Las Cruces Police Department (LCPD) joined the pursuit, police said.
An LCPD officer stopped the fleeing pickup near mile marker 140 using a pursuit intervention technique (PIT) maneuver, at which point Cueva came barreling out of the truck while shooting at the swarm of law enforcement officers in the vicinity.
Officers from all four agencies returned fire, hitting Cueva at least once, the NMSP said.
The gunman died from his wounds at the scene, according to police.
Dona Ana County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Roxanne Garcia-McElmell later said Cueva was wearing a ballistic vest, The New York Times reported.
One LCPD officer was airlifted to a Texas trauma hospital after suffering a gunshot wound to the arm during the exchange of gunfire, the NMSP said.
He was treated for non-life threatening injuries and has been released from the hospital.
NMSP Chief Robert Thornton said Cueva had “violent criminal history” and had been charged with drug trafficking in the past, the Las Cruces Sun News reported.
The suspect was allegedly on his way to a drug deal in Las Cruces when the attack occurred, Chief Thornton said.
The NMSP Investigations Bureau is handling the ongoing investigation into the incident, according to the state police.
Officer Jarrott worked as a transportation inspector for the New Mexico Department of Public Safety (NMDPS) before becoming a certified law enforcement officer for the agency in December of 2014.
He was sworn in as a NMSP officer in July of 2015.
Chief Thornton struggled to hold back tears as he spoke about the slain officer during a press conference on Thursday night, the Las Cruces Sun News reported.
“Officer Darian Jarrott went out there today and was serving his state, his community the best way he knew how and I love him for that,” the chief said.
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff in honor of the fallen officer’s service and sacrifice, the Las Cruces Sun News reported.
“I am shocked, heartbroken and enraged by the loss of this public servant. I am praying for the local officer who was also shot and injured,” Grisham said in a statement. “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.”
“We are and must remain grateful for their heroic service every single day – and moments like this remind us why,” the governor continued. “The New Mexico State Police put their lives on the line to help keep us safe. I join all New Mexico and the New Mexico State Police community in grieving this senseless, heinous loss.”
Officer Jarrott leaves behind his wife and three young children, according to his department.
The couple’s fourth child will be born later this year, the NMSP said.
— NMSP (@NMStatePolice) February 5, 2021
WATCH: Overnight, dozens of officers escorted the body of fallen New Mexico State Police officer, Darian Jarrott, to Albuquerque. Officer Jarrott was shot and killed yesterday near Las Cruces. Team coverage of this tragedy continues this morning.@NMStatePolice @koat7news pic.twitter.com/TwM7HgAyk1
— Royale Da – KOAT (@RoyaleKOAT) February 5, 2021
There are no words for how heartbreaking it is to lose an officer in the line of duty — especially an officer from such a close community as Lordsburg. My prayers and love are with the family and friends of NMSP Officer Darian Jarrott as we mourn this tragic loss. pic.twitter.com/k5UtdyzkE5
— Candie G. Sweetser (@candie_sweetser) February 5, 2021
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of New Mexico State Police Officer Darian Jarrott, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Officer Darian Jarrott, your life mattered.