Police: Chase suspect drove toward officer

Courtesy photo JaWayne Helfferich, 39, was injured when shot by a Texas Department of Public Safety officer during a pursuit Saturday.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

A 39-year-old Clovis man was shot by a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper Saturday during a police pursuit because he drove toward the officer who had exited his disabled vehicle, New Mexico State Police reported Tuesday.

Police have said JaWayne Helfferich led Texas law enforcement from three departments on a 40-mile pursuit into northern Curry County on Saturday morning after fleeing during a traffic stop near Friona.

In a Tuesday press release, New Mexico State Police Capt. Jimmy Glascock said Helfferich’s 1996 Ford Explorer collided with an officer’s vehicle on Curry Road 21, then turned around and drove back toward the officer, who had gotten out of his disabled patrol unit.

The officer, identified as Joel Rejino, “fired shots when he perceived eminent threats of the Explorer being driven closely to him,” the release said.

Helfferich remains in serious condition at a Lubbock hospital, according to family members. He was shot six times, family members said.

Parmer County Deputy Steve Bartley also fired shots in an attempt to disable or stop Helfferich’s vehicle near New Mexico State Road 108, according to the release.

Glascock said investigators are still trying to determine how shots were fired. He declined to elaborate further on the shooting, citing an ongoing investigation.

Glenda Camp, 66, of Portales was in the passenger seat of her son’s vehicle throughout the pursuit. She said her son was unarmed and did not threaten officers during the pursuit.

Police had declined to answer questions about the shooting until Tuesday.

Glascock said police did not find a weapon and do not believe Helfferich was armed.

Patricia Helfferich said Tuesday her husband has been allowed hospital visits from family, which were previously denied.

She said he has had surgeries to repair shattered bone in his jaw and arm and still has bullet fragments in his body that doctors have not been able to remove.

Glascock said he does not know the duty status of the officers involved in firing their weapons.

No one could be reached at the Texas DPS administrative offices Tuesday in Lubbock. Previous calls seeking comment have not been returned.