The suspect, Joseph Moreno, was also killed in the morning shootout near a trailer park in Alamogordo, police said at a news conference.
Police identified the slain officer as Clint Corvinus, 33, a four-year veteran who graduated from high school in Alamogordo. Authorities said he is survived by his parents, girlfriend and an 8-year-old daughter.
“I am again so very saddened to see that yet another courageous law enforcement officer has been killed in the line of duty,” Gov. Susana Martinez said in a statement, adding that violence against law enforcement in the state must end.
Alamogordo Police Chief Daron Syling, in a news conference, said Corvinus was struck by gunfire Friday morning and died from his injuries at Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center. He was a field training officer at the time of the incident.
The suspect, Moreno, was shot and pronounced dead at the scene. A convicted felon, he had been in and out of jail and prison numerous times over the past 10 years and was slated to go to trial in December on drug charges.
Corvinus was one of two Alamogordo officers patrolling the area of the 600 block of South Florida Avenue when he made contact with Moreno, who had three active warrants for his arrest, according to Alamogordo police. As officers made contact, Moreno fled, and that is when shots were fired.
State Police and additional Alamogordo officers responded to the shooting scene near the White Sands Trailer Park around 8:30 a.m.
The Department of Corrections said that Moreno had been released from prison in February 2015 for time served. Court records show that he was picked up in 2013 for being a felon in possession of a firearm and a habitual offender.
He was arrested last year, in August, on charges of possessing narcotics.
Moreno was scheduled to go to trial on those charges in December.
A booking photo from the city of Alamogordo showed Moreno with dramatic facial tattoos, including one across the jaw that resembled the teeth of a skeleton.
Later Friday, mourners began placing flowers, notes, an American flag and stuffed animals in an impromptu memorial for the officer outside the police department in the town of about 31,000 some 200 miles south of Albuquerque.
“The violence against our police officers has to end,” Martinez said in her statement, “and we must do everything we can to stand up for those who put their lives on the line every single day to protect us.”
The governor has said she would back legislation for capital punishment for crimes, such as killing a law enforcement officer, when the Legislature convenes in January.
In the most recent legislative session, prior attacks on police – including the May and October 2015 shooting deaths of officers in Albuquerque and suburban Rio Rancho – galvanized an unsuccessful push by Republicans in the state Legislature for a slate of tough-on-crime legislation.
Within hours of the shooting Friday, Rep. Nate Gentry, an Albuquerque Republican and the state’s House Majority leader, issued a statement that called for laws that “put – and keep – the violent criminals who terrorize our communities behind bars.”
Meanwhile, law enforcement across the state expressed condolences Friday for Corvinus’ fellow officers and family. Flags were being flown at half-staff outside the Alamogordo police department.
U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., said in a statement, “I’m heartbroken to hear about the tragic death of Officer Clint Corvinus, who was killed today in the line of duty. My deepest sympathies go out to his family, friends, and the Alamogordo Police Department. New Mexico stands with the entire Otero County community during this difficult time.”
U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., said, “As the Alamogordo community grieves the loss of Officer Corvinus, we must pray for all our nation’s officers that patrol our streets to keep us safe. My condolences and prayers are with Officer Corvinus’s family, friends and with the Alamogordo Police Department.”
Attorney General Hector Balderas offered: “Rest in peace Officer Corvinus, your service and sacrifice to protect New Mexico families will never be forgotten.”
Corvinus’ death marks the second fatal shooting of a police officer in a rural area of the state in less than a month. Three weeks ago, authorities said an Ohio fugitive gunned down Officer Jose Chavez during a traffic stop in Hatch, a village about 100 miles west of Alamogordo that’s known for its green chile crop.
The suspect in that shooting, Jesse Hanes, was arrested after a dramatic car pursuit, a carjacking and the shooting of a bystander whose car Hanes stole, police said. He has been charged by prosecutors in Doña Ana County with Chavez’s death.