Community bids final farewell to fallen Connecticut officers


BRISTOL, Conn. (WTNH) — Thousands of people from around the country gathered Friday at a a football stadium in East Hartford, Connecticut, to say their final farewell to two police officers who were killed in a suspected ambush last week.

Lt. Dustin DeMonte and Sgt. Alex Hamzy of the Bristol Police Department were shot and killed on Oct. 12 while responding to a 911 call. The shooting wounded a third police officer, Alec Iurato.

State Police Sgt. Christine Jeltema said the officers were responding to a report of domestic violence when they encountered someone outside the house and shots were fired. State police said in a news release that the 911 call appeared to have been “a deliberate act to lure law enforcement to the scene.”

The 35-year-old suspect, Nicholas Brutcher, was shot and pronounced dead at the scene. His brother, Nathan Brutcher, 32, was also shot and taken to St. Francis Hospital for treatment of his wounds.

Processions for the fallen officers began at 8:55 a.m. Friday. The routes led mourners to Rentschler Field, a soccer/football stadium in East Hartford.

Hamzy’s family spoke during the funeral. His father, Ahmad Hamzy, began to speak before his cousin, Bill Hamzy, finished what he had written.

“Our names are Ahmad and Salma, but if we’re known for the rest of our lives as Alex Hamzy’s parents, it would be the highest honor which we could ever achieve,” Bill Hamzy said.

Hamzy, 34, leaves behind his wife, Katie Scott Hamzy. She said there weren’t enough words to describe her love for her husband, and read a quote she said she came across when he first became a police officer.

“When I see his badge, it is not just a number,” Katie said, reading from the quote and crying. “It signifies honor and it has my ultimate respect. His badge that I proudly stand behind, lies upon his chest, close to his heart, because this call on his life as an officer takes heart. So while you may know my officer as a number, know he is far more than that. He is my hero, my protection, the love of my life, and, of course, my heart. I love you, Alex.”

An officer salutes at police procession for two fallen officers from the Bristol Police Department. (WTNH)

DeMonte, 35, is survived by his wife, Laura, and their two children; a third child is due in March. Laura also delivered an emotional eulogy.

“To Alex and Dustin, you are both true heroes,” Laura said. “Dustin, my love, baby, the kids and I are honored to call you ours. You loved us so hard, and we felt that love every single day. I know you felt that love in return.”

Without the crutches he has been using because of his wound, Iurato carried a flag into the stadium during the service. He did not speak during the ceremony, but several people who did called him a hero. Iurato received a standing ovation when Bristol police chief Brian Gould spoke of his bravery the night of the shooting.

“Being the true hero that he is, Officer Iurato maintained courage and composure and delivered a surgical strike, which immediately stopped the act of killing,” Gould said.

In the wake of the officers’ deaths, Bristol has seen immense support from the community, including thank-you notes that now cover its police department, a cruiser blanketed in flowers from mourners and help from several nonprofit organizations which stepped up amid the tragedy.

Mourners and supporters decorated a cruiser outside the Bristol police station in honor of the fallen officers. (WTNH)

Schools in the towns of North Haven and Bristol had closed Friday in observance of the funeral. Another town’s students were released earlier this week so school buses could be used to transport mourners to and from Hamzy’s wake.

The funeral comes a week after thousands gathered in Bristol, holding candles outside the police department, as Hamzy’s body was brought by the station one final time. His body was in the back of a tactical unit vehicle, and his uniform mounted on the front bumper, as the crowd clapped and yelled “thank you for your service.”

Hundreds of people attended Hamzy’s calling hours on Wednesday in Terryville. His family has created the Officer Alex Hamzy Memorial Fund in his honor, with future grants going toward organizations his family recommends.

DeMonte was honored at a private ceremony Thursday in North Haven. The 10-year veteran of the force leaves behind a pregnant wife and two children.

DeMonte and Hamzy were posthumously promoted by the Bristol Police Department. They were ceremoniously promoted during the funeral.

In the first days following the deaths, a nonprofit organization announced it would take over the mortgage on DeMonte’s home. And this week, The Hometown Foundation announced it had a goal of raising $500,000 for the three officers’ families and will host a ride on Oct. 30 to honor them.

The Miami Dolphins, the New York Yankees and ESPN’s headquarters have paid special tribute, as well.

The two have been called heroes for their work, which has included volunteering with Brian’s Angels, an organization that helps the homeless.

Their names were added Thursday to the Law Enforcement Memorial at the Connecticut Police Academy in Meriden. The decision to add them was unanimous, according to a statement from the memorial’s foundation. A formal ceremony will be held in May.

Both DeMonte and Hamzy have been nominated to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, as well.

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