If you are looking for true heroes, two of them were in the news this past week, one who met a tragic end and the other who put himself in harm's way to avert further tragedy. Both heroes wore the uniform of a police officer and both made tremendous sacrifice in the course of their duties.
State Police Officer Darian Jarrott was shot and killed this past Thursday during a traffic stop of a felon with a long criminal history. After shooting Officer Jarrott, the suspect fled east on Interstate 10 in his vehicle and was pursued by NMSP, Border Patrol, Doña Ana County Sheriff's, and the Las Cruces Police. At one point, he stopped and fired on officers before getting back into his pickup truck and continuing to flee. The chase entered the Las Cruces city limits on Interstate 10 between Motel Boulevard and Avenida de Mesilla, where LCPD Officer Adrian De La Garza conducted a PIT (Pursuit Intervention Technique) maneuver on the suspect's vehicle. That maneuver brought the vehicle to a stop and the suspect came out shooting even before his pickup had stopped sliding.
De La Garza was struck by gunfire although he was not aware of it. He returned fire, along with other officers, and killed the suspect. It wasn't until moments after the gunfight that De La Garza realized he had been shot. He was hit in the bicep of his gun hand and it is nothing short of remarkable that he was able to stay in the fight, return fire, and take the suspect down. He was medevacked and, fortunately, out of the hospital in a couple of hours.
NMSP Officer Jarrott was assisting in an HSI investigation at the time of his death. Why a traffic stop was requested by HSI is not known at this time. Jarrott was the father of three children with a fourth on the way and an outstanding officer who'd had a positive impact on the community he served.
Jarrott and De La Garza epitomize the courage, fortitude and selflessness it takes to wear the uniform of a police officer. God bless them both, and all the other law enforcement officers who put themselves in harm's way every day.
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."