Bristol police officers may have been 'lured' into deadly ambush, officials say
Authorities said Thursday they believe two police officers who were shot dead in Connecticut were drawn into an ambush by a 911 call about possible domestic violence.
State police said the 911 call about a dispute between two siblings appears to have been “a deliberate act to lure law enforcement to the scene” in Bristol.
A third officer was seriously injured in the shooting late Wednesday night at 310 Redstone Hill Road.
Bristol Police Chief Brian Gould said the slain officers were Sgt. Dustin Demonte, 35, and Officer Alex Hamzy, 34. Hamzy died at the scene. State police said Demonte was taken to Bristol Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Officer Alec Iurato, 26, underwent surgery at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford for serious wounds, according to state police.
One suspect shot dead, another hospitalized
Police say 35-year-old suspect Nicholas Brutcher was shot dead at the scene, and his 32-year-old brother Nathan Brutcher was wounded.
Nathan Brutcher was transported to St. Francis Hospital. It’s not immediately clear whether he or his family have an attorney or someone else who can speak for them, according to the Associated Press.
State police Sgt. Christine Jeltema said the Bristol police officers responded to a call involving two siblings at around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday and were met by a man outside the home.
“Shots were fired, fatally wounding one officer on scene,” Jeltema said at a news conference Thursday morning.
Witnesses said they heard three sets of gunshots, about 30 in all.
Neighborhood resident Schalitda Strong told Connecticut Public that she heard a rapid series of shots.
“I just heard, like a bunch of gunshots. There was a small pause. Bunch more gunshots. And I went into my room because it sounded so close, I actually thought the shooting was happening in our complex,” Strong said.
“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!”
Authorities did not say who fired all of the fatal shots. No video of the shooting has emerged publicly. Jeltema said the investigation was in preliminary stages.
Gov. Ned Lamont ordered all U.S. and state flags lowered to half-staff in honor of the fallen officers. In a statement, the Connecticut State Police Union described the incident as a "cowardly act of violence" and said the police officers were "senselessly ambushed for simply protecting and defending others."
Connecticut state Sen. Henri Martin, who represents Bristol, said he was devastated by the officers' deaths.
“Words cannot sum up our sadness and emotions,” Martin said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with our Bristol Police Department, their families and our entire law enforcement community. We will continue to pray for them all.”
Bristol police chief remembers fallen officers
Demonte was a 10-year veteran of the Bristol Police Department and co-recipient of his department's 2019 Officer of the Year award. He had worked as a school resource officer at Greene-Hills School and West Bristol School.
Gould said Demonte, who earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology from Central Connecticut State University, was “very focused on his career and furthering his career and education.”
He and his wife were expecting their third child, Gould said.
Hamzy was an eight-year veteran of the department and had gotten many letters of commendation during his tenure on his hometown police force, the chief said. Like Demonte, Hamzy was an adviser 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 the hospital.
Iurato, 26, joined the Bristol department in 2018 and has a bachelor’s degree in government, law and national security, the chief said.
This is a developing story. Connecticut Public Radio's Catherine Shen, Matt Dwyer and Joe Amon contributed to this report. This story contains information from the Associated Press.