Two Connecticut officers may have been ‘drawn’ into deadly ambush

The injured officer is said to have « serious injuries ».

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BRISTOL, Conn. — Two police officers who were shot in Connecticut were apparently lured into an ambush by an emergency call about possible domestic abuse, authorities said Thursday. A third officer was injured in the gunfire.

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State police said in a statement that the 911 call Wednesday night over a dispute between two siblings appears to have been « a deliberate act to draw law enforcement to the scene » at Bristol.

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Bristol Police Sgt. Dustin Demonte and Officer Alex Hamzy were killed. Officer Alec Iurato was injured.

Police say suspect Nicholas Brutcher, 35, was shot and his brother Nathan Brutcher was injured. The surviving brother, 32, was hospitalized and it was not immediately clear whether he or his family had a lawyer or someone else who could speak on their behalf.

The deadly encounter happened over the course of a week as at least 11 police officers were shot dead across the country.

Across the country, 54 officers have died from gunfire on the job so far this year, compared to 62 throughout 2021, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, a nonprofit that tracks the deaths of officers in American police. (This year’s total number is far behind last year’s pace, largely due to lower COVID-19 deaths.)

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Connecticut State Police said they are still working to answer many questions that remain about the confrontation. No video of it has appeared publicly.

Neighbors said they heard two or three rounds of gunfire, about 30 in all.

« I heard a whole war going on behind me, » said Danny Rodriguez, who said he was outside his house across the street when the shots rang out. It was so intense he could smell gunpowder in the air, he said.

« It was so loud and crazy, » said Rodriguez, who also recalled a woman shouting, « you…killed them! »

State Police Sgt. Christine Jeltema said when officers responded to the call around 10:30 p.m. they encountered someone outside the house and shots were fired.

Shalitda Strong lives diagonally across from the shooting but snuck into her bedroom « because it sounded so close », she said. Strong said she called 911, but police were already on their way.

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Police have yet to say who opened fire, who fired the fatal shots or how many guns were fired in all.

“We have lost two outstanding Bristol police officers, and a third has been seriously injured, following senseless violence,” Bristol Police Chief Brian Gould told 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 pursuing his career and his education, » the chef 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.

Philip Demonte Jr. called his brother « a good all-around guy » with a great sense of humor.

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« Nobody had anything bad to say » about him, his brother said. « A terrible loss, someone who died for no reason. »

Hamzy, 34, has received many letters of congratulations during his eight years with the police in his hometown, the chief said. Like Demonte, Hamzy was a counselor in a police cadet program.

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

Dozens of officers lined a street and followed a vehicle carrying Hamzy’s body from the scene of the shooting Thursday morning. Demonte died in 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. Iurato was released from the hospital on Thursday morning.

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Bristol, about 15 miles southwest of the state capital, Hartford, is home to around 60,000 people and the ESPN sports network.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont called the shooting a « senseless tragedy », ordering flags to be flown at half-mast in honor of the officers.

It followed shootings of police officers this week in Greenville, Mississippi; Decatur, Ill.; Philadelphia, Las Vegas and Central Florida. Two of those officers, one in Greenville and one in Las Vegas, were killed.

The last fatal shooting of a Connecticut officer was in 2018, when Preston officer William Kinney was shot while signing an eviction notice, according to the Connecticut Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation.

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