Serving the High Plains

'He was a good man'

Vigil held for NMSP officer Hare

An estimated 500 people on Wednesday evening shared memories and mourned a slain New Mexico State Police officer from Logan.

The vigil drew officers from as far away as Hobbs paying their respects to NMSP patrolman Justin Hare, who was gunned down on March 15 west of Tucumcari while stopping to assist a motorist with a flat tire.

The suspect, Jaremy Smith of South Carolina, was captured in Albuquerque two days later after being shot by police during a foot pursuit. Federal charges were filed against Smith on Friday. (See other story in this edition.) Smith also remains a person of interest in the death of a South Carolina paramedic.

Candles were supplied before the ceremony in front of the New Mexico State Police office in Tucumcari, but wind made it difficult to keep them lighted.

Instead, former Clovis police chief Ray Mondragon, who presided over the event and estimated the crowd size, asked attendees to activate the flashlights on their cellphones and hold them up as a bagpipe version of "Amazing Grace" played over the public address system.

Hare's girlfriend, Daizzare Quintana, their two daughters and Hare's mother and father sat on a podium during the vigil.

NMSP Lt. Jerry Hernandez, who'd known Hare for years, provided memories of his fallen colleague and had to pause several times while being overcome with emotion.

He said several local officers were with Hare on an Interstate 40 frontage road after he'd been shot and left for dead.

"Rest assured that Officer Hare did not die alone on that cold, dark morning," Hernandez. "He was listening to us.

"So in light of this recent tragic event that has impacted all of us, I want to emphasize the importance of coming together and supporting one another during this challenging, difficult time."

Hernandez also read a statement that Quintana wrote about Hare.

"He always went above and beyond to ensure that he had everything he needed for what they needed, not just financially and materialistically, but he was constantly present in their lives," the statement read. "He was with them or giving back to a small community. He loved the small-town feel and had no hesitation to move to move back to Logan so that they could raise their family."

Quay County Sheriff Dennis Garcia gave Quintana an American flag on behalf of the Law Enforcement Standards Training board of directors.

Quintana commented briefly to the crowd.

"I just want to thank you from the Hare family," she said. "We truly feel how much you loved him."

Hare's father, James, also thanked everyone for coming.

"Knowing Justin the way we know him, he'd be looking down on us, saying, 'Wow, this is for me?' I want you guys to be blessed for doing this," he said.

Kinzy Gurule, a first-grader at Logan and a member of a youth soccer team coached by Hare, came forward.

"He was a good man," she said, breaking down in sobs. "Everyone who needed him, he was there. He was my favorite police officer."

Tucumcari resident Haley Place also gave a few remarks.

"He might be gone," he said, "but this man will always be here for you. He might be that glimmer you see in the morning when you first open your eyes, that shadow you see out of the corner of your eye. It might be him you hear in the trees, but he's here. He's in heaven, watching you guys."

Hare's funeral will be at Legacy Church at 7201 Central Ave. NW in Albuquerque at 11 a.m. March 27. Legacy Church in Tucumcari, at 622 S. Lake St., will livestream the service.

 
 
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