Police: Officers may have been ‘lured’ into deadly ambush
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.
Neighbors said they heard two or 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 that when officers answered the call at roughly 10:30 p.m., they encountered someone outside the house, and shots were fired.
Schalitda Strong lives diagonally across the street from the shooting but ducked into her room “because it sounded so close,” she said. Strong said she called 911, but police were already on their way.
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.
Philip Demonte Jr. called his brother “an all-around good guy” with a great sense of humor.
“No one had anything bad to say” about him, his brother said. “Terrible loss, someone who died for no reason.”
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. Iurato was released from a hospital Thursday morning.
Bristol, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) southwest of the state capital of Hartford, is home to about 60,000 people and to the sports network ESPN.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont called the shooting “a senseless tragedy.”
It was the latest of several shootings of police officers around the country this week.
A detective was killed Tuesday night responding to a call in Greenville, Mississippi.
Early Wednesday, three Philadelphia police officers were shot and wounded and a suspect was killed when a SWAT team tried make a homicide arrest, 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 but saved by a bulletproof vest while investigating a report of a family disturbance at a home.
A Las Vegas police officer was fatally shot early Thursday while answering a domestic violence call.
In Connecticut last week, a New Haven police officer was shot and wounded while responding to a traffic crash Friday.
This story has been updated to correct the spelling of the name of the wounded officer. His name is Alec Iurato, not Alex Iarato.
Contributing were Associated Press writers Sue Haigh in Hartford, and Karen Matthews in New York.
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