State procession for fallen New Mexico officer planned

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A cross-state procession for a police officer shot and killed during a traffic stop in a small New Mexico village is set to begin Monday afternoon, with law enforcement agencies planning to escort the officer’s body along a 225-mile route.

The body of Jose Chavez, 33, is being transported to his hometown of Las Cruces from Albuquerque, where the fallen officer’s body was taken over the weekend for an autopsy at the state Office of the Medical Examiner.

The motorcade is expected to travel through several towns along Interstate 25, including Hatch, where Chavez was gunned down on Friday. The village, famous for growing green chile, is home to fewer than 2,000 people, according to most recent U.S. Census figures, and lies 190 miles south of Albuquerque.

Funeral services for Chavez are scheduled for later this week.

Chavez, a two-year veteran of the Hatch Police Department, was shot in the neck after pulling over two Ohio murder suspects. He was airlifted to University Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, where he later died.

It remains unclear whether the officer, a father of two children, knew the suspects were wanted in Ohio.

One of the suspects, 38-year-old Jesse Hanes, reached through a window and shot Chavez as the officer stood outside the front passenger’s window, authorities said.

A fellow officer who arrived to assist just as Chavez was shot reported seeing him with paperwork and appearing to draw his service weapon before smoke filled the air and Chavez fell to the ground.

The suspects fled, with Hanes shooting and wounding another another man at a rest stop as he stole his car, authorities said. Sheriff’s deputies eventually were able to stop Hanes by using a tire-deflating device.

Hanes was hospitalized for a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the thigh.

James Nelson, 36, the other suspect arrested in connection to the case, was taken into custody about 7 miles away near Rincon.

Nelson is scheduled to make his first court appearance since the shooting before a magistrate in Las Cruces on Monday afternoon.