EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Thousands of people from around the country gathered Friday for a joint funeral for two Bristol police officers who were shot to death in an apparent ambush.
The service for Lt. Dustin DeMonte and Sgt. Alex Hamzy was held at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.
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 suspected shooter. Iurato, who survived a gunshot wound to his leg, struggled to get behind a police cruiser and fired a single shot that killed the suspect.
DeMonte was a sergeant with 10 years of experience on the force, and Hamzy was an officer for eight years. They were promoted posthumously to lieutenant and sergeant, respectively.
Hamzy’s family spoke during the funeral. His father, Ahmad Hamzy, began to talk before his cousin, Bill Hamzy, finished what he had written.
“Our names are Ahmad and Salma, but if we’re known for the rest of our lives as Alex Hamzy’s parents, it would be the highest honor which we could ever achieve,” Bill Hamzy said.
Hamzy, 34, leaves behind his wife, Katie Scott Hamzy. She said there weren’t enough words to describe her love for her husband and read a quote she said she came across when he first became a police officer.
“When I see his badge, it is not just a number,” Katie said, reading from the quote and crying. “It signifies honor and it has my ultimate respect. His badge that I proudly stand behind, lies upon his chest, close to his heart because this call on his life as an officer takes to heart. So while you may know my officer as a number, know he is far more than that. He is my hero, my protection, the love of my life, and, of course, my heart. I love you, Alex.”
DeMonte, 35, is survived by his wife, Laura, and their two children; a third child is due in March. Laura also delivered an emotional eulogy.
“To Alex and Dustin, you are both true heroes,” Laura said. “Dustin, my love, baby, the kids and I are honored to call you ours. You loved us so hard, and we felt that love every single day. I know you felt that love in return.”
Without the crutches he has been using because of his wound, Iurato carried a flag into the stadium during the service. He did not speak during the ceremony, but several people who did called him a hero. Iurato received a standing ovation when Bristol police chief Brian Gould spoke of his bravery the night of the shooting.
“Being the true hero that he is, Officer Iurato maintained courage and composure and delivered a surgical strike, which immediately stopped the act of killing,” Gould said.
VIDEO: End of Watch
VIDEO: Widows of officers presented flags
Thousands of police officers from across the country were in the stands for the nearly three-hour ceremony. Officers from other states said it was important to show support in large numbers after such a tragedy, especially to the fallen officers’ families.
Hamzy’s father-in-law, Jeffrey Scott, also spoke at the funeral, condemning animosity toward police officers because of “the actions of a few.”
“Why is there so much hate in this country?” he asked. “We went from having differences to blatantly hating one another. This has to stop. It has to stop. There is no need for blue to hate red, or red to hate blue, whites to hate Blacks, or Blacks to hate whites. We are one, one, one country. … If we don’t stop, we are going to lose our country.”
Outpouring of Support
Bristol has seen immense support, from thank you notes that cover its police department to a cruiser blanketed in flowers to several nonprofit organizations stepping in to help the community through the tragedy.
Earlier this week, thousands gathered outside the police department in Bristol 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 was mounted on the front bumper as the crowd clapped and yelled, “thank you for your service.”
Their names were added 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.
DeMonte and Hamzy also have been nominated to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.