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Officer shot dead near Deming leads to I-10 chase ending in Las Cruces shootout; suspect dead, LCPD officer wounded

(Editor's note: Caution the video above shot by ABC-7 viewer Austin Contreras shows the ending of the chase and shootout in Las Cruces that left a suspected cop killer dead and several officers injured. It is graphic and some may find it disturbing.)

DEMING, New Mexico -- A New Mexico State Police officer was gunned down on Interstate 10 on Thursday and authorities chased the attacker, killing him in a shootout in Las Cruces that also injured an LCPD officer.

NMSP said Officer Darian Jarrott, 28, was shot at milepost 101 on I-10 in Luna County near Deming during a noon hour traffic stop of a pickup truck while he was assisting in a Homeland Security investigation.

State police said multiple law enforcement agencies then pursued the attacker's vehicle along I-10 to the West Picacho Avenue exit in Las Cruces before there was an exchange of gunfire.

The attacker, identified as 39-year-old Omar Felix Cueva, was killed in the shootout and a Las Cruces police officer was shot and wounded.

The LCPD officer, whose name was not released, was flown by helicopter to University Medical Center in El Paso with injuries that were not life-threatening. A hospital spokesman told ABC-7 that he was treated for a gunshot wound and later released.

State Police continued late Thursday night to investigate the two separate shooting scenes some 30 miles apart. Authorities said they also executed a search warrant at Cueva's Deming area home.

NMSP Chief Robert Thornton tried unsuccessfully to hold back tears at a Thursday night news conference at state police headquarters in Deming as he told reporters the agency was in "mourning over the loss of our fallen hero."

The slain officer, Jarrott, had been on the job with NMSP since 2015. He was a father of three young children, Thornton said. He was expecting a fourth child this year.

The chief described Jarrott's attacker, Cueva, as a man with a "violent criminal history that included drug trafficking and other felonies."

Thornton said Cueva was believed to have been headed to drug deal at the time he was stopped by Jarrott and opened fire on the officer.

(NMSP Officer Darian Jarrott, killed in the line of duty.)

A stretch of I-10 – both eastbound and westbound – from Exit 142 at University Avenue to Exit 135 near West Picacho Avenue in Las Cruces remained shut down late Thursday night.

Another stretch of I-10 eastbound also remained closed Thursday night around milepost 85 (Deming) to milepost 102 (Akela), with traffic being detoured onto NM 549.

Democrat New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered flags across the state to fly at half-staff on Friday in the slain officer's honor.

“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," the governor said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

She continued... "I am horrified as we grieve another life cut down, another family crushed by senseless violence in our state. 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."

Greg Baca, the Republican leader of the state Senate, joined Lujan Grisham in mourning the loss of the officer.

"The senseless violence gripping our state has taken the life of a devoted public servant and law enforcement officer," he said in a statement. 

"Tonight, we send our prayers and deepest condolences to the family members and friends of Officer Darian Jarrott. Words cannot express the depth of gratitude we owe to those who risk their lives for our protection, and we stand with the entire law enforcement community in grieving this tragic loss," Baca wrote. 


New Mexico State Police news briefing

ABC-7 at 6 team coverage

Helicopter aerial view of Deming shooting scene

Helicopter aerial view of Las Cruces shooting scene

Ground view of Las Cruces shooting scene

Police gear up in Deming to execute search warrant

Article Topic Follows: ABC-7 Alert Center

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Jim Parker

Jim Parker is the former Director of Digital Content for ABC-7.


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