- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 13, 2016

A New Mexico police officer was fatally shot during a traffic stop Friday night in Hatch, a town north of Las Cruces. Three suspects are in custody in the incident after a high-speed chase which involved what KOAT-TV described as “a multi-jurisdiction response, including air response from Border Patrol.”

“Another Hatch officer had just arrived at the traffic stop to assist the first officer when a passenger from the vehicle exited and fired shots,” according to a statement from the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Department.

Law enforcement officials said the suspects evaded police during a high-speed chase, then shot and wounded another individual in a carjacking attack at a rest stop further down the interstate around 25 minutes later.

Police later deployed a tire-deflating device on the Chevy Cruze that had been carjacked, causing the driver to crash the stolen vehicle nearly four hours after the manhunt began to unfold. The driver was taken into custody after a brief standoff with authorities, and the two other suspects were later found several miles away after after authorities received word of two men acting suspiciously. Officials did not immediately know how the men had made it there, The Albuquerque Journal reported. 

The slain officer, Jose Chavez, a two-year veteran of the Hatch police force, died Friday evening at University Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, according to KOB-TV. He was 33 and leaves behind a wife and two children, KVIA reported.

“Tonight, Officer Chavez is an officer of every department; we all feel the tremendous loss for his family and for our community,” Doña Ana Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Kelly Jameson said in a statement.

“I can tell you that the Hatch Police Department is eight officers strong. They are a very small department, a very close-knit department,” she told reporters, according to the Las Cruces Sun-News. “I don’t know when the last time Hatch experienced an incident of this nature.”

Two of the three suspects apprehended Friday have been identified by The Chillicothe Gazette as James Nelson II, 36, and Jesse Hanes, 38, and were reportedly taken into custody on murder warrants stemming from the fatal shooting last month of a Londonberry, Ohio man. The third suspect’s name has not yet been released. 

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