Retired NM officer killed by fleeing suspects during vehicle pursuit
J.R. Stewart was killed Monday when the motorcycle he was riding was struck by a vehicle fleeing law enforcement
By Las Cruces Sun-News Staff
Las Cruces Sun-News, N.M.
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Retired Las Cruces police officer J.R. Stewart was killed Monday when the motorcycle he was riding was struck by a vehicle fleeing law enforcement.
Stewart was twice a candidate for Doña Ana County sheriff and was also a former president of local police unions and fraternal organizations.
"J.R. was quite possibly the most loved and respected officer our community has known," the Las Cruces Police Department said in a statement. "He served his country and community with honor, and volunteered much of his time to those organizations he held dear to his heart.
New Mexico State Police reported a Toyota 4-Runner that had been carjacked earlier in the day was headed southbound in the northbound lanes of Interstate 25, when it turned west, went through a barbed wire fence onto Las Alturas Drive where the 4-Runner struck the motorcycle.
Two suspects — who have not been identified — were later taken into custody, state police reported.
"J.R. was a friend to all and had no enemies," the LCPD news release said. "J.R. left a legacy in law enforcement and in pure goodness that is incomparable. We will miss him and will try to emulate his passion for life in all that we do."
Stewart, who retired from the Las Cruces Police Department on June 5, 2014, was a candidate for sheriff in 2010 and in 2014.
"J.R. was a respected lawman who always wanted what was best for his community," said sheriff Enrique "Kiki" Vigil. "The Doña Ana County Sheriff's Department mourns his loss, and we extend our deepest condolences to the Stewart family."
Vigil defeated Stewart in the 2014 Democratic primary for sheriff.
In a news release announcing his first run for sheriff, in 2010, Stewart noted he was president of the LCPD Police Officers Association and a negotiator on the department's hostage team. Also, he received a commendation from President Bill Clinton in 1994 for his "commitment to the safety of others and his dedication to the community as a member of law enforcement."
He was also a longtime president of the local Fraternal Order of Police.
Stewart graduated from New Mexico State University with an associate's degree of criminal justice in 1984. He received an honorable discharge in 1977 from the Marines.
"The men and women of the Las Cruces Police Department extend our deepest condolences to J.R.’s family, especially to his beautiful wife Rosie and to Momma Stewart," the LCPD release said.
©2017 the Las Cruces Sun-News (Las Cruces, N.M.)