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Internal review shows aggravating factors in New Mexico officer's deadly shooting

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Flawed tactics and poor communications were among the key findings of a New Mexico State Police internal review of the deadly shooting of an officer who unknowingly stopped an armed drug suspect while he was being tracked by federal agents as part of an undercover operation in February 2021.

The report released Wednesday provides excruciating detail — partially drawn from dashboard and body-worn camera footage — of the death of Officer Darian Jarrott. He was killed by a burst of gunfire during a traffic stop on Interstate 10.

The report also describes the killing of drug trafficking suspect Omar Cueva-Felix after a 40-mile vehicle chase and a shootout with authorities in Las Cruces.

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It concludes that two U.S. Homeland Security Investigations agents and a State Police supervisor provided conflicting accounts about whether the supervisor received “full disclosure” about Cueva-Felix’s criminal history and an HSI plan to arrest him along the interstate.

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“Omar Cueva-Felix killed Officer Jarrott in cold blood, and unfortunately, we cannot change that,” New Mexico State Police Chief Troy Weisler said in a statement that accompanied the release of the report.

The chief said the review resulted in several internal departmental policy changes and discussions about possible alternative actions and tactics for certain situations.

“The highlighting of mistakes by different individuals involved in the incident and noting areas for improvement is done solely to learn and find ways to operate more safely,” Weisler said.

New Mexico State Police Officer Darian Jarrott, pictured at right, is fatally shot on video by Omar Cueva-Felix following a vehicle chase. (Austin Contreras via Storyful/New Mexico State Police)

Jarrott, 28, was the first New Mexico State Police officer killed in the line of duty in more than 30 year. A father of four, he became a state police officer in 2015 after working as a state transportation inspector.

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The incident spawned multiple lawsuits that allege both HSI and Jarrott’s superiors were negligent and did not warn the officer of Cueva-Felix’s dangerousness beforehand. A federal judge in Albuquerque dismissed one of the cases last July with a ruling that the government was immune from liability.

A State Police supervisor had asked Jarrott to pull over Cueva-Felix at the behest of federal agents. The request was made after the suspect sold a large quantity of drugs to an undercover agent, showed off a large rifle and told them he wasn’t going back to prison.

Cueva-Felix, 40, of Deming, had what authorities described as an extensive criminal history in California and was known to carry firearms.

The fatal traffic stop occurred the afternoon of Feb. 4, 2021, on I-10, about 15 miles east of Deming. Within minutes, Jarrott was ambushed and shot multiple times. Cueva-Felix then led authorities on a chase that ended with him being killed in Las Cruces during a shootout that also injured a city police officer.

Eric McLoughlin, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations El Paso, said in a statement provided to the Albuquerque Journal that the agency is reviewing the report and the committee’s recommendations regarding joint enforcement actions. He also reiterated the agency’s condolences for Jarrott’s death.

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McLoughlin said the New Mexico State Police is among many law enforcement agencies with which his agency works and special agents are often embedded as task force members with other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

According to the review, no State Police officers were at an official operation briefing and Jarrott was not included in text messages with federal agents about the plan. It also noted that there was no incident command structure in place, even though two agencies and different HSI elements were working in cities 60 miles (96 kilometers) apart.

The review also found that Jarrott didn’t appear to pick up on “danger cues” after stopping Cueva-Felix and should have “changed his tactics” once he spotted a handgun on the suspect’s hip.

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Southwest

Oklahoma City bombing: FBI agent reflects on response to attack 29 years later

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Nearly 30 years ago, Ret. FBI Special Agent Barry Black responded to the worst homegrown terrorist attack in U.S. history with just a year of experience as a bomb technician under his belt.

Black was one of two FBI bomb techs in the entire state of Oklahoma, including Jim Norman, when he arrived at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, which housed offices for approximately 500 government employees, around 9:30 on April 19, 1995. Nearly half an hour earlier, at 9:02, ex-Army soldier Timothy McVeigh ignited a bomb that took a third of the nine-floor building, killing 168 victims.

“It was horrific and chaotic. The scope and magnitude of the destruction was something like I had never seen before,” Black told Fox News Digital of his memories of the attack 29 years later. “{I’ve] sadly seen similar since. But other than the first World Trade Center attack, the U.S. had not seen an attack like this.”

Black’s responsibility as a bomb tech was to “assess the scene,” he said.

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Ret. FBI Special Agent Barry Black remembers what it was like to respond to the Oklahoma City bombing 29 years later. (FBI)

“We were told maybe it was an airplane crash or a gas main explosion. Clearly it was not. And … the scale was something that few had seen in this country,” the former special agent said.

The explosion registered a 6.0 on the Richter scale and was felt an estimated 55 miles from the scene, according to the Justice Department. It left cars upturned and damaged more than 320 nearby buildings.

The destroyed Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building

The explosion registered a 6.0 on the Richter scale, according to the Justice Department.  (FBI)

Among the 168 who perished in the attack, 19 were children, as the Murrah building housed a daycare on the second floor. The last of the deceased was a nurse who had been responding to the emergency when a piece of falling debris struck and killed her.

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Black went into the building every week to pick up a paper paycheck. The tellers who handed him that paycheck every week “were all killed,” Black recalled.

Photos of victims who died during the Oklahoma City bombing in a memorial museum

Among the 168 who perished in the attack, 19 were children. (Joe Raedle)

His wife, a federal probation officer, was also in the building that morning, but she drove out at 9 a.m., two minutes before the explosion.

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“I have been to a number of these catastrophic events. What makes this a little different is: this was in my backyard. These were people I knew. My wife was in the building. At 9:00, she drove out — two minutes before the detonation — and it was about an hour and a half before I knew she was OK,” Black recalled.

When he arrived, “the devastation was overwhelming,” he said.

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Oklahoma City bombing

Ret. FBI Special Agent Barry Black said “the devastation was overwhelming” at the scene of the Oklahoma City bombing. (FBI)

“But as I did what we call the initial survey — kind of a walkabout to try to assess the damage and get a handle on what may or may not have occurred — I asked some of the security people … if they’d seen my wife, and I recall one specifically said, ‘Yep, I’ve seen her and she’s fine.’ Well, that sort of freed me up. He later told me that he had not. He just thought I needed to hear that she was OK. So, good, bad or indifferent, that’s what he told me. And it took a little of the load off.”

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While sorting through rubble for evidence a day after the attack, investigators came across the rear axle of a Ryder rental truck used to detonate the bomb with an identification number on it.

Barry Black stands next to the rear axle of the Ryder rental truck now displayed in a museum

While sorting through rubble for evidence a day after the attack, investigators came across the rear axle of a Ryder rental truck used to detonate the bomb with an identification number on it. (FBI)

“That morning, a reserve deputy called myself and the other bomb tech, Jim Norman, to that rear … axle, and he wiped away some grease, and we wrote down that CBI and then physically gave it to a runner who … took it to the command post,” Black recalled. 

From there, investigators were able to track down the fake name McVeigh used to rent the vehicle, and employees at the rental shop were able to help investigators put together a composite sketch of their suspect. Once the sketch was released to the public, a hotel employee in Junction City, Kansas, identified the suspect as 27-year-old McVeigh.

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A composite sketch of Timothy McVeigh next to a photo of McVeigh

Authorities were able to identify Timothy McVeigh just 54 hours after the Oklahoma City bombing thanks to a composite sketch. (FBI)

By April 21, authorities learned McVeigh was already in jail after a state trooper pulled him over about 80 miles north of Oklahoma City, just 90 minutes after the bombing, for a missing license plate, according to the FBI. He had a concealed weapon on him at the time and was detained.

Later on, federal agents found evidence of the chemicals used for the bomb on McVeigh’s clothing and a business card on which he had written, “TNT @ $5/stick, need more,” according to the FBI. Authorities also arrested Terry Nichols, who helped McVeigh make the deadly bomb.

FBI agents stand next to Timothy McVeigh wearing an orange jumpsuit

Federal agents found evidence of the chemicals used for the bomb on McVeigh’s clothing and a business card on which he had written, “TNT @ $5/stick, need more,” according to the FBI. (FBI)

Following 28,000 interviews that were conducted across the world, investigators were able to piece together McVeigh’s and Nichols’ motives for the horrific act: They were angry about the April 19, 1993, Waco siege, as well as the August 1992 siege at Ruby Ridge, according to the FBI and DOJ.

“I’m confident we know his motivation. It was intended to be the first blow in an upheaval and overthrow of the federal government,” Black said. “Intent is one of those things that’s intangible but required to prove. So there was a great deal of time spent looking into why he would do this. And the same is true whether it’s domestic or international terrorism. But his motivation was proven clearly.”

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Constance Favorite, the mother of bombing victim Lakecha Richardson, prays in front of her daughter's chair in the Field of Empty Chairs sector of the Oklahoma City National Memorial in downtown Oklahoma City 11 June 2001.

Black said lessons from the FBI’s investigation into the Oklahoma City bombing are still relevant today,  (ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP)

Black said lessons from the FBI’s investigation into the Oklahoma City bombing are still relevant today, and those lessons are part of what he teaches as a professor at the University of Central Oklahoma Forensic Science Institute.

 

“There are specific things we would look for on scene, like parts of the bomb, parts of the vehicle that carried the bomb. And that information needs to get relayed quickly to the command post so that the larger, broader external investigation can begin. And that’s how we had McVeigh and Nichols in custody in about 54 hours after detonation,” Black explained. “It was a massive undertaking with law enforcement work[ing] very, very well together.”

McVeigh was executed in 2001 at age 33.

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Los Angeles, Ca

Family of father of 5 devastated after he's killed in Southern California hit-and-run crash

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Family of father of 5 devastated after he's killed in Southern California hit-and-run crash

A Southern California family is searching for answers after a father of five was killed in a hit-and-run crash early Friday morning.

The victim — 44-year-old Anthony Molina — was walking home around 3:22 a.m. when he was struck by a vehicle on Marshall Boulevard near Elm Avenue in San Bernardino on April 19.

A security camera from the area picks up the audio of the crash but issues with visibility make it difficult to make out the vehicle.

Anthony’s family is heartbroken after the tragedy.

“I’m missing my son, look what you did to my son,” the victim’s mother, Sandra, said while fighting back tears to KTLA 5’s Carlos Saucedo. “No bringing him back anymore. I can’t believe this is being done to my son.”

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Anthony’s death has left his family devastated, and his loss will also impact the community. The 44-year-old coached Little League in San Bernardino for more than 20 years. Anthony lived in his home for 28 years.

Neighbors in the area say speeding is all too common on that stretch of road, and are hopeful the city will add speedbumps to slow drivers down.

Authorities have not released any information about the suspect’s vehicle that was involved in the crash.

Anthony’s sister, Darling Vanessa Molina, is pleading for the driver to come forward.

“If you’re watching, turn yourself in,” she said. “My brother deserves to get justice.”

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Southwest

Texas shelter dog becomes impressive police K-9 as he combats fentanyl crisis

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A shelter dog has found a new mission in life as a drug-sniffing police K-9 — a transformation that took place just months after the pup was rescued from the streets of Fort Worth, Texas.

“If you talk to me in five years, I guarantee you we’re going to have kilos of records to reflect his service to the city,” Sgt. Charles Hubbard of the Fort Worth Police Department told Fox News Digital.

Rock, a long and dark-coated German shepherd mix, is part of narcotics detection operations that have taken hundreds of thousands of pills off the streets — making him a vital tool in combating today’s fentanyl crisis.

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“I’m talking 20,000, 100,000, 500,000 pills off the street before they ever get out into our community,” Hubbard said of the role narcotics detection K-9s play in law enforcement.

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Last summer, then-six-month-old Rock was found wandering around the city with his sister. 

Rock is photographed shortly after arriving at the Fort Worth Animal Control’s Chuck & Brenda Silcox Animal Care & Adoption Center in Fort Worth, Texas. (Sgt. Charles Hubbard, Fort Worth Police Department)

The dogs were brought to the Fort Worth Animal Control’s Chuck & Brenda Silcox Animal Care & Adoption Center, where shelter superintendent Anastasia Ramsey recognized that the two pups were special.

“We took them out in the yard, and we did some tennis ball exercises where we tossed the ball to see if they had any interest,” Ramsey said — adding that she and her team tossed the dogs treats to see if they were able to “learn things quickly.”

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“Rock passed with flying colors,” she said. 

“He just blew everything out of the water.”

Sgt C. Hubbard and Officer K. Thompson, the Ft. Worth PD's K9 team trainer

Sgt. Charles Hubbard, left, is shown beside Officer Kristopher Thompson, right, who is the Fort Worth Police Department’s K-9 team trainer. (Sgt. Charles Hubbard, Fort Worth Police Department)

Ramsey’s own husband is a K-9 police officer with the Dallas Police Department, so she said she’s aware of what law enforcement is looking for in a K-9 dog.

She recorded videos of Rock and his sister — and the team from Fort Worth Police Department then took the pair for a two-week trial.

“Anastasia [Ramsey] has got a good eye,” Hubbard said. 

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“She knows the traits that we’re looking for … We trusted what she was evaluating out there and everything that she believed proved true because both Rock and his sister completed narcotics training,” Hubbard said.

narcotics dog with officer

Rock was only six months old when he was rescued from the streets in Fort Worth. He was then brought into the Fort Worth Police Department. (Sgt. Charles Hubbard, Fort Worth Police Department)

The officers decided that with Rock’s high energy and high prey-and-hunt drive, the pup would definitely be a fit and would excel. 

“You want a dog that’s going to want to go to work every day,” Hubbard said. 

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“And I’ll tell you what, every time I get him out of the car, and even when he’s at home off duty — when he comes out of his kennel, he’s sniffing.”

Hubbard said Rock wants to sniff cars, boxes — anything he can get his nose on. 

“We can’t do this job without a K-9 like him. It’s the most effective way for us to combat fentanyl, heroin, meth, cocaine, all of it.”

— Sgt. Charles Hubbard

“That’s the most desired trait — that you don’t have to work your dog up,” Hubbard said. “You’re not always saying, ‘Buddy, let’s go, let’s go.’ You just get him out, and he’s ready to go.”

Rock’s sister, Jade, while just as smart, turned out to have a softer personality. She was placed as a school resource K-9.

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“Rock is super friendly, very fun-loving,” Ramsey said. 

dog with oats on his nose

Rock is a ball full of energy and loves going to work every day, always ready to sniff anything and everything. (Sgt. Charles Hubbard, Fort Worth Police Department)

“He seems to enjoy working. He has a lot of energy. And so, pairing those types of dogs with someone who can give them something to do, like a police department, is instrumental in making sure that we set those dogs up for success,” she said.

Rock continued to show his skills. He soon went to work with Hubbard as his handler in a specialized segment of narcotics called K-9 interdiction. 

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Dogs in this unit do not apprehend suspects, but work strictly as sniffers to find drugs and contraband.

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“In the particular unit we are in, we are task force officers with Homeland Security,” Hubbard said. 

narcotics dog outside

Sgt. Charles Hubbard has a feeling that in five years, Rock will have collected kilos of drugs to his name — all for the safety of the city. (Sgt. Charles Hubbard, Fort Worth Police Department)

“So we’re federal agents under Customs and Border Patrol,” Hubbard added. 

“Besides the southern border, international shipments are where both the base opioids are coming through as well as the finished pills.”

Hubbard and Rock can be found on duty at any distribution facility — such as UPS, FedEx or the U.S. Postal Service — checking out bulk shipments.

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“If [we] don’t work the bulk side and have a K-9 that can tell you, ‘Hey, there’s 100,000 pills in this box,’ we’re just never going to know,” Hubbard said. 

“And once that hits the street and starts getting dispersed, you’re going to have mass overdoses, and then you’re behind the eight ball — you can’t catch up. So, plainly, we can’t do this job without a K-9 like him. It’s the most effective way for us to combat fentanyl, heroin, meth, cocaine, all of it.”

Rock and Sgt. Charles Hubbard

Sgt. Charles Hubbard takes Rock home to his family and to his two other dogs who were once police K-9s. (Sgt. Charles Hubbard, Fort Worth Police Department)

Rock also has discovered fentanyl in the field on traffic stops, had cocaine alerts in storage facilities and made multiple marijuana finds, Hubbard said.

At the end of a hard day’s work, Hubbard takes Rock home to his family and to his other two dogs, one of whom is a retired police K-9.

“All of our dogs go home with us,” Hubbard said. 

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“We spend more time with our K-9s than we do with our family because we’re at home with them all the time on the weekends, and then they go to work with us,” he said.

“Three of our six K-9s are shelter rescues now.”

— Sgt. Charles Hubbard

Hubbard said he hopes Rock’s story inspires other police departments to give their local shelters a look when trying to identify a K-9.

“Three of our six K-9s are shelter rescues now,” Hubbard. 

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“I don’t know that you’ll find another unit [in which] half of their K-9 makeup are rescues.”

Ramsey said she sees it as a win-win situation.

Rock the narcotics dog split

Three of the six police K-9s at the Fort Worth Police Department are shelter dogs — proving that shelter dogs are capable of assisting in important police business, said Hubbard. (Sgt. Charles Hubbard, Fort Worth Police Department)

“It’s a double positive,” she said. 

“[It’s] for the dogs and the image of shelter pets. Maybe for someone who thinks, ‘Oh, shelter dogs — they’re not what I’m looking for. I want something that can do X, Y and Z’ — well, shelter dogs, in most cases, can do that, too.”

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