Hundreds mourn beloved Las Cruces officer

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Las Cruces police officers laid one of their own to rest on Saturday after a miles-long precession honoring retired police officer J.R. Stewart.

As KTSM previously reported, Stewart was killed during a high-speed chase on Monday when a vehicle fleeing from police hit the motorcycle he was riding.

Stewart’s niece, Makiah Stewart, told KTSM, "It really sucks that we lost him a few days ago - so suddenly considering he was such a good person to everybody. He was a wonderful person. I love him a lot." 

Hundreds of people including family and friends also attended Saturday’s precession and funeral at St. Genevieve’s Catholic Church.

Several elected officials including New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez were also in attendance.

Makiah said, "I loved it. The fact that so many people came is amazing. That really shows the impact he had and left with everybody here. Not just in Las Cruces but everywhere."

Tu’u Tupelu-Banks, Stewart’s niece, said the family was still in shock.

She said, “He was a police officer for 35 years. He retired. He was fine and safe all those years and it happened like this. It’s still hard to believe.”

A “chopper-hearse” delivered Stewart to his final resting spot at St. Joseph’s cemetery in Las Cruces.

Officials with the Las Cruces Police Department and family said they were overwhelmed by the turnout.

Meanwhile, the people accused of killing Stewart are in jail without bond pending trial.

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