DEMING, New Mexico – New Mexico on Friday mourned the death of a police officer whose body was brought to Deming by the medical investigator’s office in Albuquerque.
The motorcade carrying fallen NMSP officer Darian Jarrott left around 5 p.m. and drove south on Interstate 25 towards Las Cruces and then on to a funeral home in Deming.
Jarrott, 28, was killed in a street confrontation in Deming that authorities linked to drug trafficking that sparked a 40-mile police chase.
Officials say the attacker was killed in a gunfight with police in Las Cruces that left another officer wounded.
Jarrott joined the State Police in 2015 after previously serving as a state transportation inspector and local law enforcement officer.
The attacker was identified by the authorities as Omar Felix Cueva, 39.
Jarrott, who was assisting US homeland security investigations Thursday, stopped traffic on Interstate 10 in southern Luna County between the cities of Las Cruces and Deming, New Mexico, state police said.
A Homeland Security agent who arrived at the first firing site notified state police. After a state police officer discovered Cueva’s pickup, several law enforcement officials chased him into the Las Cruces area.
Tire deflators and other maneuvers were used to force the fleeing vehicle off the freeway and there was a definitive exchange of fire, the statement said.
Cueva was killed. A Las Cruces police officer was shot dead – injuries that Las Cruces police spokesman Danny Trujillo said were not life threatening.
Various shooting scenes stretched over approximately 40 miles.
The traffic obstruction was related to the fact that Jarrott was helping homeland security, an agency spokeswoman told ABC-7 on Friday. In addition, New Mexico State Police Chief Robert Thornton told reporters that Cueva was on his way to Las Cruces to get a drug deal.
A US border guard assisted local and state police in tracking Cueva on the highway.
Cueva had a “violent criminal history” including drug trafficking convictions, but not in New Mexico, Thornton said.
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered all flags in state buildings to be lowered to half the staff from Friday through Tuesday in honor of Jarrott.
“Violent crime is a scourge for New Mexico, and the men and women who wear the badge to protect our communities fight it with everything they have every day,” said Lujan Grisham.
Jarrott came from the small community of Lordsburg and was stationed in Deming.
Thornton said the officer had a reputation for always smiling.
“Even when there was a difficult situation, the guy always smiled,” Thornton said.