A man killed a New Mexico State Police officer Thursday afternoon on Interstate 10 in Luna County near Las Cruces, then fled farther down the highway and engaged in a shootout with other law enforcement officers, authorities said.

State police said the suspect was killed and several officers were injured in the shooting.

Authorities identified the slain state police officer as Darian Jarrott.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reported the suspect, identified as Omar Felix Cueva, 39, fled east on the highway for about 40 miles before engaging in a shootout with Las Cruces police and Doña Ana County sheriff’s deputies around 12:30 p.m.

A Las Cruces police officer who was shot in the encounter was taken to University Medical Center in El Paso, where he was recovering from his injuries, police spokesman Dan Trujillo told the Sun-News.

Jarrott, 27, was from Lordsburg and was stationed in the state police office in Deming. He had previously worked in the Carlsbad area, according to the Sun-News.

He was the father of three small children and was expecting a fourth child this year, state police said.

Jarrott began his career as a transportation inspector with the New Mexico Department of Public Safety. He became a certified law enforcement officer in December 2014 and joined the state police in July 2015, state police said.

In December, the Eddy County DWI Program presented Jarrott an award for outstanding DWI enforcement.

The Las Cruces Police Department closed the interstate near the shooting scene and was telling motorists to avoid the area and seek alternate routes until the investigation had been completed, which was expected to be late in the evening.

A video shared widely online showed the shootout, the Sun-News reported.

The video showed a Las Cruces police officer pursuing a white pickup that was driving in reverse.

shooting.jpg

Video taken by bystander Austin Contreras shows the driver of a white pickup exchange gunfire with a Las Cruces police officer Thursday on Interstate 10.

Austin Contreras, who shot the video, told the newspaper he was repairing a gate near I-10 when he and his crew heard sirens. As the truck came around the bend, Contreras said, they could hear it hit spike strips and the tires pop. He said the driver tried to continue, but the officer used a maneuver to stop the fleeing truck.

The pickup driver and Las Cruces officer got out of their vehicles at about the same time, the video showed. The suspect — who appeared to be wearing a head covering — fired multiple rounds at the officer, who fell to the ground and then got up in a crouched position.

The suspect and officer exchanged dozens of shots before other police officers and deputies arrived at the scene and fired at the suspect.

“It was shocking,” Contreras told the Sun-News. “I mean, nobody expected it to end in a gunfight.”

Late Thursday night, state police said in a statement that the officers involved in the shooting would be placed on standard leave. The investigation is being led by the New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau.

Later, Contreras’ crew found a bullet mark in a nearby trailer, the Sun-News reported. He said the bullet made an indentation and fell to the ground.

It was the third police shooting in two days in Luna and Doña Ana counties in Southern New Mexico, the Sun-News reported.

On Wednesday in Las Cruces, the newspaper reported, a police officer shot a vehicle fleeing a traffic stop.

Also on Wednesday, officers from the Deming Police Department and the Department of Homeland Security Investigations shot and killed a person suspected of shooting at vehicles on I-10 near Deming.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday ordered flags to be flown at half-staff beginning Friday in mourning for the slain state police officer. Flags should be flown at half-staff through sundown Tuesday.

“We are still learning more about what happened and why, as law enforcement authorities continue to investigate, and we will all get the facts about what happened today,” the governor said in a statement. “But what we know right now is a New Mexico law enforcement officer has been killed in the line of duty and I am horrified as we grieve another life cut down, another family crushed by senseless violence in our state.”

Steve Pearce, chairman of the Republican Party of New Mexico, issued a similar statement on the slaying.

“This was a senseless killing, and we are horrified that a public servant, one who helps serve and protect our communities, was gunned down in the line of duty,” Pearce said.

“Law enforcement officers are heroes, and we must stand by them at all times,” he continued. “This violence must stop, and it’s heartbreaking to learn of this tragedy. We also are praying for the other officers who were injured.”

As a news briefing with reporters as the legislative session wrapped up just before 2:30 p.m., House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, said he had just received an alert “that an officer with the New Mexico State Police was just killed in the line of duty.”

Egolf seemed momentarily stunned.

“That’s very sad news,” he said. “Let’s all be mindful of the officer’s loss in the line of duty and be grateful for the officer’s service. I’m sorry to hear that news. Very, very sorry.”

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

(36) comments

Khal Spencer

I've looked at several articles including the NY Times piece. Nothing about the cop killer being an illegal. If one of you have documentation, why not provide it? Meanwhile, its well known that we have more than our share of screwups, scumbags, and violent criminals who are home grown. Try keeping the politics out of this unless you can prove its part of the problem.

The fact that this guy had a long criminal record going back to California days suggests our lax criminal justice system is a major player in this tragedy.

Khal Spencer

There is yet another story about Omar Felix Cueva in the Journal and a report on one of the Albuquerque TV stations. Cueva had a long criminal history and served time in the Federal brig, yet no mention anywhere of deportation proceedings. So I really doubt he was an alien. Can someone provide a link otherwise? Anyway, it seems the big culprit, other than the dead cop killer himself, is a lax criminal justice system. Here are Mr. Cueva's bona fides:

06/1994 Vandalism

06/2000 Possession of a controlled substance

09/2001 Possession of Controlled substance

10/2002 Importation of a controlled substance

4/2004 Importation of Cocaine

8/2006 Fictitious Check, False check, Burglary

3/2007 Probation Violation

3/2008 Import of a controlled substance

9/2010 Possession with intent of Crystal Meth or ICE

source: https://kvia.com/news/crime/2021/02/05/new-details-emerge-about-violent-criminal-who-died-in-shootout-after-killing-nmsp-officer/

Also, an Elise Kaplan story, "Man who killed officer had long criminal history" in today's Abq Journal. Two URLs get this post bounced.

John Onstad

Friends:

Who is Omar Felix Cueva? AKA Omar Felix-Cueva?

An illegal perhaps?

This newspaper and other newspapers refuse to deal with the criminals crossing our southern border and creating murder and mayhem in the USA.

"Oh well, Sleepy Joe will take care of this."

John

Khal Spencer

Maybe you ought to do some research before you spout off some B.S. The scumbag appears to have a long criminal history in the U.S.

https://kvia.com/news/crime/2021/02/05/new-details-emerge-about-violent-criminal-who-died-in-shootout-after-killing-nmsp-officer/

Angel Ortiz

Another profile example. Thanks John. Brilliant.

Khal Spencer

Or, as I like to say, yet another red herring?

Well, if he was an "illegal" that should be reported. But it seems John wants to fabricate a narrative about "building a wall" instead of dealing with what we actually know, based on a name and face. If factually, Mr. Cueva should have been deported, maybe someone can cite a reputable source on his immigration status??? Anyone??? A free box of chocolate chip cookies to anyone who can document Mr. Cueva being an "illegal"???

Angel Ortiz

Sound familiar? PAC - Santa Fe Friends of Capitalism PAC.....

bob chilton

All this while our law makers decide the fate Of actually performing law enforcement duties in this violent state. Five officers shot one killed last week around the country, six officer shot three killed this week and it’s not even Sunday.

John Onstad

Build the wall.

Angel Ortiz

John. Best concern yourself on the white supremacists. Latinos are not the internal threat now.

Angel Ortiz

Call Donald

Khal Spencer

Much longer article in the Albuquerque Journal:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2356214/state-police-officer-killed-others-injured-in-shooting-in-las-cruces.html

"...Jarrott, a-five-year veteran of the agency who was based in Deming, was assisting Homeland Security Investigations when he pulled over Cueva, who was on his way to do a drug deal, on Interstate 10. On Wednesday, Deming police shot and killed a man during an HSI investigation, but it’s unclear whether the two incidents or investigations were related..."

Traffic stops can be dangerous enough because you never know if you are stopping a low life on the way to more crime or an honest citizen who is doing 12 over the limit. But if this was a known drug interdiction, I'm surprised Trooper Jarrett didn't wait for backup. Or maybe he didn't know the low life scum he pulled over was an armed drug dealer. Traffic stops can be ambush city, and incidents like this go a long way to explaining why a police officer may be edgy when making a traffic stop.

Condolences to the family and to the New Mexico State Police. We don't need this.

Craig Meyer

Most of the time backup is there on a felony traffic stop. What we don't know is if the suspect was doing something that the trooper thought created an exigent circumstance. If the suspect was doing something the trooper thought endangered the public he would of course take action. We just don't know enough yet. Whatever action Trooper Jarrott took was heroic.

Khal Spencer

Amen

John Onstad

Build the wall.

Raquel Casillas

Such deep sadness. The officer was so young and now his family must endure so much loss. Condolences to family and friends. The video is really really hard to watch. That person should not have had possession of a gun. The question is how to predict and how to intercept or set up tactical interventions to support and help protect the lives of these brave men and women. The shock is another layer of shock in these waves of violence. We should be able to do something.

Khal Spencer

Illegal drugs and guns go together like pork and beans. Sadly, have and always will. We need to reform our drug laws because the failed War on Drugs has a long list of casualties, both good guys and bad.

John Onstad

Build the wall.

Lee Vigil

Such a tragedy for the officer's family and the injured police officer. I hope we find out why he was being pursued. Condolences to the family.

John Onstad

Build the wall.

Ed Hardlied

Pearce’s quote adds nothing to the article.

Moses Townsend

It's essentially the same thing the Governor said. I think you're letting partisan identity blur your perception.

Ed Hardlied

My point: why seek comment from political operative?

Khal Spencer

We need to find out what kind of person did this and why.

Mike Johnson

I would suspect he is an illegal alien wanted for something serious.

Angel Ortiz

Dr Mike. Sounds like you are profiling this person based on the last name. Really poor edicate. I guess all of us Latinos must be guilty of something in your eyes. Nonetheless, my condolences to the officer's family and his co-workers. This is a sad and tragic incident.

Mike Johnson

The facts show he was an illegal alien, and according to the NYT, "He has a violent criminal history, including drug trafficking and other felony charges." And he was wearing a bullet proof vest during his drug buying trip. It's not his ethnicity, it is his immigration and criminal record here Angel. You need to be able to make distinctions like this with people, I can.

John Onstad

Build the wall!

Angel Ortiz

Sorry Dr. Mike. Now you are just like the rest. Profiling. Maybe a bit racist. Texas property suits you best

Angel Ortiz

Sorry Mike. Your true colors have shown. Thanks for verifying what I suspected. I am reading Khal's posts. He states the felon had no immigration issues.

Bonnie Cox

Since the Hwy Patrol officer was working with Homeland Security, my guess he knew what he was up against. So sorry for the entire family, most especially the wife who is expecting their 4th child.

Richard Irell

What possesses people to do such things.

Condolences to family and colleagues.

John Onstad

Build the wall!

Angel Ortiz

Didn't Donald build your wall? He was supposed bill the Mexican government. Opps.. Another GOP FAILURE.

Lee DiFiore

The thin blue line.

John Onstad

Build the wall!

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