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Fatal shooting of police officer in New Mexico leads to a 40-mile chase and shootout

The fatal shooting of a New Mexico State Police officer Thursday led to a high-speed chase that ended in a shootout with the suspect.

State Police said Officer Darian Jarrott was killed on Interstate 10 near the town of Akela in Luna County, about 70 miles northwest of El Paso, Texas.

Jarrott, 28, initiated a traffic stop of a white pickup truck while “assisting Homeland Security Investigations,” according to NMSP chief Robert Thornton in a press conference late Thursday.

The driver of the truck, identified by police as Omar Felix Cueva, 39, shot and killed Jarrott before heading east on the interstate toward Las Cruces.

Police said they intercepted Cueva approximately 15 miles from the fatal shooting, where Cueva pulled over and fired at responding officers. Gunfire was exchanged before Cueva fled again.

Law enforcement from multiple departments gave chase, Thornton said, including officers from NMSP, US Border Patrol, Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office and Las Cruces Police Department.

As Cueva entered Las Cruces, police deployed spike strips to damage the truck’s tires. According to Thornton, a Las Cruces officer also executed a Pursuit Intervention Technique to force the truck sideways.

Video captured shootout

Las Cruces police spokesman Dan Trujillo confirmed the authenticity of amateur video posted online by Austin Contreras, who was working on a construction site roughly 40 miles from the shooting of Jarrott.

The video showed a Las Cruces police cruiser shoving the truck off of the road. After the truck slides to a halt, Cueva is seen emerging from the vehicle and pointing a firearm at police amid sounds of gunfire. One officer is seen crouching behind the police vehicle closest to the truck.

The gunfire continues until police approach the truck as Cueva appears motionless next to the vehicle.

State Police confirmed that Cueva was shot at least once and died on the scene.

One Las Cruces officer was injured in the shooting, but police said the officer was treated at an area hospital and released.

Jarrott began his career as a transportation inspector with the New Mexico Department of Public Safety. He was sworn in as a NMSP officer in July 2015.

Jarrott is survived by three young children, with a fourth expected this year, according to NMSP chief Thornton.

“We’re here to honor Officer Darian Jarrett, for his sacrifice and what he’s done for this community and done for this state,” Thornton said, sharing that one of Jarrott’s captains described the officer as the “nicest guy he ever met, that always had a smile on his face.”

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