By DAVE COLLINS for the Associated Press
EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Thousands of police officers from around the country gathered in a football stadium in Connecticut on Friday for a joint funeral for two officers who were shot to death in an apparent ambush.
The service for Bristol officers Dustin DeMonte and Alex Hamzy was set to be held at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field — the University of Connecticut’s 40,000-seat stadium in East Hartford. Major highway closures were announced for the processions of the two officers from funeral homes to the stadium.
DeMonte, Hamzy and Officer Alec Iurato were shot on 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 and survived.
At the time of the shooting, 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.
Mourners including many police officers from New England and beyond streamed into the stadium hours before the service.
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.
Authorities have not released 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.