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    Saturday, July 13, 2024

    Funeral for 2 ambushed Bristol officers draws peers from around US

    Police line the path as the hearses for Bristol Police officers Dustin DeMonte and Alex Hamzy arrive at a funeral service, Friday, Oct. 21, 2022, in East Hartford, Conn. Thousands of police officers from around the country have gathered in a football stadium in Connecticut for a joint funeral for the officers who were shot to death in an apparent ambush on Oct. 12. (Sean Fowler/Hartford Courant via AP)
    Police officers file into Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field for a funeral service for Bristol Police officers Dustin DeMonte and Alex Hamzy, Friday, Oct. 21, 2022, in East Hartford, Conn. Thousands of police officers from around the country have gathered in a football stadium in Connecticut for a joint funeral for the officers who were shot to death in an apparent ambush on Oct. 12. (Sean Fowler/Hartford Courant via AP)
    Two Bristol Police department officers hug before a joint police funeral, Friday, Oct. 21, 2022, in East Hartford, Conn. Thousands of police officers from around the country have gathered in a football stadium in Connecticut for a joint funeral for Bristol officers Dustin DeMonte and Alex Hamzy who were shot to death in an apparent ambush on Oct. 12. (AP Photo/David Collins)

    EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Thousands of police officers from around the country gathered Friday in a football stadium in Connecticut for a funeral for two officers who were shot to death in an apparent ambush.

    The service for Bristol Officers Dustin DeMonte and Alex Hamzy was being held at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field, the University of Connecticut's 40,000-seat stadium in East Hartford.

    DeMonte, Hamzy and Officer Alec Iurato were shot Oct. 12 in what police believe was an ambush set up by a 911 call made by the shooter, Nicholas Brutcher. Iurato, who survived a gunshot wound to his leg, struggled to get behind a police cruiser and fired a single shot that killed Brutcher. Brutcher's brother, Nathan, also was shot — possibly by his brother — and survived.

    DeMonte was a sergeant with 10 years' experience on the force, and Hamzy was an officer for eight years. They were promoted posthumously to lieutenant and sergeant, respectively.

    Parts of major highways in the Hartford and New Haven areas were shut down as processions that included dozens of police motorcycles escorted the two officers’ bodies from funeral homes to the stadium.

    Officers carried the American-flag-draped caskets into the stadium, followed by the officers' families and other Bristol officers and firefighters. Relatives of DeMonte and Hamzy were comforted and escorted to their seats by officers and others.

    Photos of the two officers and their families were shown on stadium screens before the service.

    Mourners streamed into the stadium hours beforehad. Sgt. Greg Dube, of the New Hampshire State Police, said it was important to show support in large numbers after such a tragedy.

    “We’re all family,” he said. “We definitely feel their pain. The best way we can show our respect is in strength in numbers.”

    “I might not have met them, but I understand it could have easily happened to me or my colleagues. You just can’t take any day for granted,” Dube said.

    Lt. Ernie Lucero, of the police department in Thornton, Colorado, said it was his first time in Connecticut.

    “It's important to show that this brotherhood and sisterhood of law enforcement are there and will be there all the time, no matter from where we come from,” he said. “Law enforcement as a whole, we are here together, even in these horrible times of despair.”

    DeMonte, 35, is survived by his wife, Laura, and their two children; a third child is due in March. In his obituary, relatives described him as a “kind, gentle spirit that was loved by many.” He helped honor local officers killed in the line of duty and helped the homeless.

    Hamzy, 34, leaves behind his wife, Katie. His family said in his obituary that he was “one in a million, his smile would light up a room. He was always in a good mood and would lighten even the darkest days with his infectious laughter.”

    Both officers worked with teens and young adults. DeMonte was a school resource officer, and Hamzy was an adviser to the Bristol Youth Cadet Program.

    Authorities have not disclosed a motive for the shooting. A preliminary report said Nicholas Brutcher fired more than 80 rounds as he attacked the officers from behind. The state inspector general also said in the report that it was evident Iurato's deadly use of force on Nicholas Brutcher was justified.

    Calling hours for Hamzy on Wednesday drew hundreds of people, while a private wake for DeMonte was held Thursday.

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