(HATCH, N.M.) — A 36-year-old man reportedly wanted for aggravated murder in Ohio has been arrested and charged in the shooting death of a New Mexico police officer after a routine traffic stop, according to the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Department.
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Jesse Hanes, whose last known address was in Columbus, Ohio, currently faces one count of willful and deliberate first-degree murder. Additional charges are pending, the Sheriff’s Department said.
Hanes was driving a silver Lexus when he was stopped by police officer Jose Chavez at 3:41 p.m. near a convenience store in the village of Hatch, New Mexico, according to court documents cited in a Sheriff’s Department statement. At the time of the stop, Hanes had one front-seat passenger and another passenger in the rear of the vehicle, the statement said.
As Hatch was about to stop the vehicle, another Hatch officer who had just left his assignment as a school resource officer reportedly spoke to Chavez on the phone and said he would meet Chavez to help with the traffic stop.
“When the assisting officer arrived, he reported seeing Officer Chavez at the passenger side of the Lexus,” the Sheriff’s Department statement said. “The assisting officer said Chavez was holding paperwork, but appeared to also be reaching for his service weapon. The officer said he saw smoke and then reported that Officer Chavez fell to the ground.”
The assisting officer reportedly returned fire toward the silver Lexus before the car sped away toward Interstate 25, the statement said. The officer then alerted dispatch to an ‘officer down.’
An additional Hatch police officer, also en route to the traffic stop, initiated a pursuit of the Lexus. She reported that the car was speeding at more than 100 miles per hour and eventually lost sight of the vehicle.
Sheriff’s detectives assigned to the case believe Hanes exited Interstate 25 at a rest area near Radium Springs and got out of the Lexus, the Sheriff’s Department statement said.
At the rest area, a man in a red shirt was seen approaching motorists, allegedly demanding keys to their vehicles, according to witness accounts cited in the Sheriff’s Department statement.
One motorist driving a red Chevy Cruze was approached by the man in the red shirt and was reportedly told to hand over his keys and go with the man, the statement said.
The motorist gave the man the keys to the vehicle but refused to go with him. He was then reportedly shot once in the torso. Dispatch reported the time of that call at 4:02 p.m. The motorist at the rest area was transported to a trauma center in El Paso, the statement said. His condition is unknown.
The man in the red shirt allegedly took the red Cruze and sped away from the rest area.
Doña Ana County Sheriff’s deputies reported seeing the red Cruze and deployed a tire-deflating device ahead of where the car was traveling.
“The device successfully incapacitated the Cruze, which eventually came to a stop when the driver allegedly crashed the vehicle into a pile of firewood at a residence,” the Sheriff’s Department statement said.
Deputies surrounded the Cruze while the driver briefly barricaded himself inside. He then exited the vehicle and was observed to have suffered a gunshot wound to the upper right thigh.
The driver, said to have been wearing a red shirt, was later identified as Hanes. According to court documents, the wound appears to be self-inflicted. He was transported to an El Paso-area hospital where he remained as of Saturday morning.
Officer Chavez, 33, died following surgery at University Medical Center in El Paso just after 8 p.m. Friday. He was a two-year veteran of the Hatch Police Department and a 2013 graduate of the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Department Cadet Law Enforcement Academy.
The investigation is ongoing and more information will be released as it becomes available.
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