BRISTOL, Conn. (WTNH) – Up to 50,000 people were expected to pack a football stadium in East Hartford, Connecticut, to say their final farewell to two police officers who were killed in a suspected ambush last week.
Lt. Dustin DeMonte and Sgt. Alex Hamzy of the Bristol Police Department were shot and killed on Oct. 12 while responding to a 911 call. The shooting wounded a third policeman, Officer Alec Iurato.
State Police Sgt. Christine Jeltema said the officers were responding to a report of domestic violence when they encountered someone outside the house and shots were fired. State police said in a news release that the 911 call appeared to have been “a deliberate act to lure law enforcement to the scene.”
Sources close to the investigation previously confirmed to Nexstar’s WTNH that the suspects used an AR-15-style firearm in the shooting. Those sources also told WTNH that 14 guns were seized from the home during the investigation.
The 35-year-old suspect was shot and pronounced dead at the scene. His brother, 32, was also shot and taken to St. Francis Hospital for treatment of his wounds.
Processions for the fallen officers began at 8:55 a.m. Friday. The two routes will lead mourners to Rentschler Field, a soccer/football stadium in East Hartford.
In the wake of the officers’ deaths, Bristol has seen immense support from the community, including thank-you notes that now cover its police department, a cruiser blanketed in flowers from mourners, and help from several nonprofit organizations who stepped up amid the tragedy.
Schools in the towns of North Haven and Bristol had closed Friday in observance of the funeral. Another town’s students were released earlier this week so school buses could be used to transport mourners to and from Hamzy’s wake.
The funeral comes a week after thousands gathered in Bristol, holding candles outside the police department, as Hamzy’s body was brought by the station one final time. His body was in the back of a tactical unit vehicle, and his uniform mounted on the front bumper, as the crowd clapped and yelled “thank you for your service.”
Hundreds of people attended Hamzy’s calling hours on Wednesday in Terryville. His family has created the Officer Alex Hamzy Memorial Fund in his honor, with future grants going toward organizations his family recommends.
DeMonte was honored at a private ceremony Thursday in North Haven. The 10-year veteran of the force leaves behind a pregnant wife and two children.
DeMonte and Hamzy were posthumously promoted by the Bristol Police Department. They will be ceremoniously promoted during the funeral.
In the first days following the deaths, a nonprofit organization announced it would take over the mortgage on DeMonte’s home. And this week, The Hometown Foundation announced it had a goal of raising $500,000 for the three officers’ families and will host a ride on Oct. 30 to honor them.
Other efforts have included a local barbershop that offered free haircuts to Bristol officers, and the community placing signs to honor the officers.
The Miami Dolphins, the New York Yankees and ESPN’s headquarters have paid special tribute, as well.
The two have been called heroes for their work, which has included volunteering with Brian’s Angels, an organization that helps the homeless. They also participated in a lip sync video challenge.
Their names were added Thursday to the Law Enforcement Memorial at the Connecticut Police Academy in Meriden. The decision to add them was unanimous, according to a statement from the memorial’s foundation. A formal ceremony will be held in May.
Both DeMonte and Hamzy have been nominated to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, as well.