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Press Release

South Carolina Man Facing Federal Charges for Murder of NMSP Officer

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUEJaremy Smith has been charged by federal prosecutors for the murder of New Mexico State Police Officer Justin Hare. Smith, 33, of South Carolina, made his initial appearance today in federal court, where a detention hearing was scheduled for March 26, 2024.

Charges were announced at a press conference today. U.S. Attorney Uballez and Attorney General Torrez were joined by New Mexico Department of Safety Cabinet Secretary Jason R. Bowie, New Mexico State Police Deputy Chief Carolyn Huynh and Deputy Chief Matt Broom, Bernalillo County Undersheriff Johan Jareno and 2nd Judicial District Attorney Sam Bregman.

“We are one community, and the loss of one is a loss to us all,” said U.S. Attorney Uballez. “Never forget that this tragedy was bookended by hope—by strangers doing the right thing for people they’ve never met. Thank you to New Mexico State Police, Quay County Sherriff’s Office, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, and all our local partners for their tireless work this week. Your partners in federal law enforcement stand with you today and always.”

"We stand side-by-side with our federal and law enforcement partners to bring the fullest measure of justice to Officer Hare and his family,” said AG Torrez. “We will commit every resource available to this prosecution and hold Mr. Jaremy Smith accountable for his reprehensible actions."

The federal criminal complaint charges Smith with carjacking resulting in death and discharge of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. If convicted of the current charges, Smith faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in federal prison for the firearms offense. The more-serious charge of carjacking resulting in death carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment or death.

There is no parole in the federal system.

According to court documents, in the early morning of March 15, 2024, New Mexico State Police Officer Justin Hare stopped to assist a disabled motorist. The motorist (later identified as Smith) exited the driver’s side of the car and approached the passenger window of Hare’s patrol car. Hare did not exit the patrol vehicle as he talked to Smith. After a short discussion, Hare asked Smith to walk to the front of the patrol vehicle. Instead, Smith shot Hare, who slumped to the right in the driver’s seat.

Smith then moved to the driver’s side of the patrol vehicle and shot Hare two additional times.  SMITH then drove away with Hare still inside the vehicle. At some point, the vehicles distress system was activated and in response backup units were activated. Responding officers subsequently located Hare’s patrol vehicle near mile marker 304 on the north frontage road of I-40. Hare was found nearby with multiple gunshot wounds to the head and neck. He was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

Local and federal enforcement immediately launched a large, coordinated effort across multiple jurisdictions to locate Smith, and his name and photograph were widely disseminated by media news outlets.

On March 17, 2024, Smith went to a gas station in Albuquerque. The clerk checked Smith’s identification card and recognized the distinct spelling of his name. The clerk contacted law enforcement, and Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) deputies and NMSP officers responded to the area to investigate.

Officers located Smith, and he attempted to flee on foot. BCSO deputies pursued Smith, who reached for his waistband as officers closed in.  At that point, BCSO officers fired their duty weapons, striking Smith, who was subsequently taken into custody and rendered medical aid.

Officers later determined that Smith had stolen a white flat-bed truck from the area of Cuervo, New Mexico.

“I am grateful for all the assistance and support my agency has received from our local and federal law enforcement partners in bringing the man accused of killing Officer Justin Hare to justice”, said Troy Weisler, Chief of the New Mexico State Police. “With the help of the Albuquerque office of the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the Attorney General, we will work together to see this case through. Our hearts continue to go out to the family and friends of Officer Hare, and we hope that the capture and prosecution of Smith will bring them closer to peace and closure.”

The FBI Albuquerque Field Office and New Mexico State Police investigated this case with assistance from the Tenth Judicial District Attorney’s Office and the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. States Attorneys Paul Mysliwiec and Jack Burkhead are prosecuting the case.

A criminal complaint is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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three men standing outside
3 law enforcement officers
A man talking at a podium while two men watch from behind him
A group of people stand outside behind a man speaking at a podium
U.S. Attorney Alexander Uballez watched NM DPS Secretary Jason Bowie Speak
Updated March 22, 2024

Topic
Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 24-113