Police: 2 officers may have been ‘lured’ into deadly ambush

Crime

BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) — Two police officers who were shot dead in Connecticut were apparently drawn into an ambush by an emergency call about possible domestic violence, authorities said Thursday.

State police said in a release that the 911 call Wednesday night about a dispute between two siblings appears to have been “a deliberate act to lure law enforcement to the scene” in Bristol.

Bristol Police Sgt. Dustin Demonte and Officer Alex Hamzy were killed, and Officer Alec Iurato was wounded, during a week when at least 10 officers have been shot around the country.

Police said 35-year-old suspect Nicholas Brutcher was also shot dead, and 32-year-old brother Nathan Brutcher was wounded.

Nathan Brutcher was hospitalized, and it wasn’t immediately clear whether he or his family have an attorney or someone else who can speak for them.

Authorities said they were still working to answer many questions that remained about the confrontation. No video of it has emerged publicly.

Witnesses said they heard three sets of gunshots, about 30 in all.

“I heard a whole war going on behind me,” said Danny Rodriguez, who said he was outside his home across the street when the gunfire rang out. It was so intense that he could smell gunpowder in the air, he said.

“It was so loud and crazy,” said Rodriguez, who also recalled a woman screaming, “you … killed them!”

State Police Sgt. Christine Jeltema said officers were responding to a report of domestic violence at about 10:30 p.m. when they encountered someone outside the address in question and shots were fired.

Police haven’t yet said who opened fire, who fired the fatal shots, or how many guns were fired in all.

“We lost two exceptional Bristol police officers, and a third was seriously injured as a result of senseless violence,” Bristol Police Chief Brian Gould said at a news conference.

Demonte, 35, was a 10-year veteran officer and co-recipient of his department’s 2019 Officer of the Year award.

He was “very focused on his career and furthering his career and education,” the chief said. Demonte, who earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology, worked as a school resource officer. He and his wife were expecting their third child, Gould said.

Hamzy, 34, had gotten many letters of commendation during his eight years on his hometown police force, the chief said. Like Demonte, Hamzy was an advisor to a police cadet program.

“The outpouring of love, support and prayers from so many is deeply appreciated,” Hamzy’s family said in a statement.

Scores of officers lined a street and followed a vehicle carrying Hamzy’s body from the shooting scene late Thursday morning. Demonte died at a hospital.

Iurato, 26, joined the Bristol department in 2018 and has a bachelor’s degree in government, law and national security, the chief said.

“We need your thoughts. We need your prayers,” Gould told residents of the small city about 15 miles (24 kilometers) southwest of the state capital of Hartford. Bristol is home to about 60,000 people and to the sports network ESPN, which is headquartered about a half-mile (1 km) from the shooting scene.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont ordered flags in the state to be lowered to half-staff, calling the shooting “a senseless tragedy.”

It was the latest of several shootings of police officers around the country this week.

On Tuesday night in Mississippi, Greenville Police Department Detective Myiesha Stewart was killed and several other people were injured by gunfire as she and other officers responded to a call, authorities said.

Early Wednesday, three Philadelphia police officers were shot and wounded at a home and a suspect was killed when a SWAT team tried to arrest the man wanted on a homicide charge, police said. And in Decatur, Illinois, two police officers conducting a traffic stop were shot and wounded by a motorist who died after officers returned fire, police said.

Late Wednesday, a sheriff’s deputy in central Florida was shot in the chest while investigating a report of a family disturbance at a home. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said the deputy was “saved” by his bulletproof vest.

A Las Vegas police officer was fatally wounded early Thursday after he and a partner stopped a vehicle while answering a domestic violence call, the Clark County sheriff said.

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This story has been updated to correct the spelling of the name of the wounded officer. His name is Alec Iurato, not Alex Iarato.

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Contributing were Associated Press writers Sue Haigh in Hartford, and Karen Matthews and Jennifer Peltz in New York City.

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