Tens of thousands say goodbye to fallen Bristol officers
EAST HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - The City of Bristol, family, and law enforcement from across the continent said goodbye to two fallen officers on Friday.
Lt. Dustin DeMonte and Sgt. Alex Hamzy were laid to rest during a combined ceremony Friday at Pratt and Whitney Stadium Rentschler Field in East Hartford.
The ceremony was scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Due to the number of people who were involved in it, however, organizers pushed it back to noon.
Tens of thousands of people attended the service, according to Cheshire police Chief Neil Dryfe. That included law enforcement personnel from all over the country, as well as Canada.
Bristol police chief Brian Gould was among the first to speak. He said DeMonte and Hamzy led by example of excellence.
“Dustin and Alex made the ultimate sacrifice, but you made an equal sacrifice,” said Chief Brian Gould, Bristol police. “Since last Wednesday, your family has grown across the state and across this nation to thousands who love you and care for you deeply. The depths of anguish you are experiencing, you have opened your hearts to let us be with you at the time. Maximum honor, dignity and respect for Dustin and Alex. We will handle your hearts with tenderness and compassion.”
Bristol’s mayor and police department announced that both DeMonte and Hamzy would be honored with posthumous promotions. Hamzy was promoted to sergeant and DeMonte was promoted to lieutenant.
The promotions were acknowledged during Friday’s funeral service:
The service included a few words from Hamzy’s father, Ahmad Hamzy, who needed his nephew to finish his remarks.
“I served this country and I was so proud to serve,” Ahmad Hamzy said. “Five years and three times almost died. But God was looking down and saying ‘keep going, I am right behind you.’ I am very proud.”
“The support we have from family friends and strangers is overwhelming,” finished Bill Hamzy, Ahmad Hamzy’s nephew. “What gets us through the days is support. They pray and want to help us in anyway possible. It is very much appreciated.”
Hamzy’s sister and wife also spoke.
“Alex was the kind of person who would drop something for anyone,” said Donna Hamzy Carroccia, Hamzy’s sister. “To pick up furniture, he would be there. As a red Power Ranger for trick or treating, Alex would be there.”
Hamzy’s father-in-law, Jeff Scott made an impassioned plea to stop hatred.
“Why is there so much hate in this country?” Scott said. “This has to stop. Has to stop!”
DeMonte’s friends spoke about what he meant to them.
“He could never hide that smile talking about his children,” said Mark Ferguson, a friend. “He was a proud father. He wont be here to see the baby come. He set an example for me. It’s devastating my children won’t be able to see the role model he was.”
“Dustin was the best of the best, most honorable, kind, sincere person,” said Zachary Levine of the Bristol Police Department. “He cared about everyone he came across, civilians, students, family, friends and strangers.”
DeMonte’s wife said she was beyond words.
“To Alex and Dustin, true heroes,” said Laura DeMonte, DeMonte’s wife. “Amazing people, and you will be missed beyond words by everyone. I am so sorry this happened to you. Two of the very best humans. So kind, positive and fun loving. Dustin, my love, babe, pain in the butt. The kids and I are honored to call you ours.”
Heart-wrenching doesn’t even describe the emotions from the families, friends and everybody else watching as the caskets of Lt. Dustin DeMonte and Sgt. Alex Hamzy were taken from the hearse, with Officer Alec Iurato crutching in ahead.
“You made everything better. Thank you for these beautiful children, wonderful memories that we cherish forever, an amazing life and the deepest, purest, most special love that I have ever felt,” said Laura DeMonte, Dustin DeMonte’s wife.
“We keep waiting for him to pull up in his new white truck. The door flies open to kiss my mom on the cheek and look for something to eat,” said Donna Hamzy Corroccia, Alex Hamzy’s sister.
There’s been no shortage of support as Rentschler Field where the ceremony was held, was packed with a sea of blue.
Brothers and sisters in uniforms from Florida, Texas, California and of course, the New England area.
They say the attack on three of their own is still unfathomable.
“A lot of things go through our heads when you have so many years on the job. It’s terrible the only thing we know is that we needed to be there and represent our department and be here for them,” said Cesar Rivera with Ft. Myers Police.
The outpouring of love has been non-stop from community members, some whom attended Friday’s funeral ceremony and others tuning in from home.
“I saw all of it online today, it was very sad, very emotional, but having family members who are first responders is terrifying because you never want that phone call and have somebody come to your front door. It’s very heartbreaking,” said Peyton Greger, of Bristol.
It’s the end of the watch for Lt. Demonte and Sgt. Hamzy, but their brothers and sisters in blue have pledged to carry the torch forward.
Officer Iurato was called a hero and got his own standing ovation at the funeral.
You can view the end of watch for Hamzy and DeMonte below:
Police officers from across the country attended:
Community members from across the state also paid their respects:
Traffic impacts, road closures
The procession for both officers headed through Hartford shortly after 10:30 a.m. It arrived at Rentschler Field around 10:40 a.m.
East Hartford police facilitated traffic flow into and out of the stadium. They advised that travel would be impacted on Silver Lane, Roberts Street and the surrounding area.
“We urge travelers to use alternate routes throughout the early morning and afternoon,” East Hartford police said.
State police announced road closures that would go in place for Friday’s funeral processions.
Each of the processions was scheduled to begin at 8:55 a.m. and arrived during the 10 a.m. hour. Motorists were told expect delays on the following routes:
- The procession for DeMonte will begin at the North Haven Funeral Home on Washington Avenue and proceed to Interstate 91. The vehicles will then exit onto I-691 west, then to I-84 East, exiting at the stadium grounds via Exit 58.
- Following the service, the procession will travel from Rentschler Field back to the North Haven Funeral Home. The route will be Route 15 South (From Silver Lane), to I-91 south, and to exit 12.
- The procession for Hamzy started at the Scott Funeral Home and followed Route 6 to Colt Highway. The motorcade proceeded to I-84 east and exited at the stadium grounds via exit 58.
- Following the service, the procession will travel the reverse route back to the Scott Funeral Home: I-84 West, to Exit 38, then Route 6 to the Scott Funeral Home.
Bags, purses, flowers, cameras, and gifts were prohibited from the funeral, said state police.
For those who couldn’t make it
Two viewing opportunities were made available for people who couldn’t make it to East Hartford.
Bristol’s mayor said the events were planned for Bristol Eastern High School and the Bristol Public Library.
Other police departments provide assistance
“It’s gut wrenching to every police officer in the state of Connecticut and around the country,” Dryfe said, who is also the president of the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association. “In order to honor these fallen officers and their families you’ll get all the pomp and circumstance that befits a funeral service like this. Weather permitting, there’ll be a flyover of police helicopters. There’ll be dozens and dozens of honor guards there in full dress uniform with flags.”
Mutual aid was provided to the Bristol Police Department from across the state so that the entire department could attend the funeral on Friday.
“They’re looking to put their brother officers to rest in a dignified way and recognize not just the way they died but how they lived and what their role was as police officers in the Bristol community,” Dryfe said.
Impact on schools and the city
Bristol schools were closed Friday in observance of the joint funeral services for DeMonte and Hamzy, the school system announced.
The mayor said city hall was also closed on Friday.
North Haven Public Schools also closed on Friday.
Calling hours for Hamzy were held in Terryville on Wednesday.
DeMonte’s wake services were made private and set for Thursday in North Haven.
Calls to support first responders
Earlier in the week, Bristol Mayor Jeff Caggiano asked for people to support first responders by driving slowly and being kind to others.
“They’re out there today on the street with our officers, still working in tandem with others,” Caggiano said. “But this is going to be a long week as we work up to the wake and funeral for our fallen officers.”
State police said Hamzy, DeMonte and Officer Alex Iurato were lured to a home on Redstone Hill on Oct. 12 by way of a fake domestic violence call between two brothers.
Hamzy and DeMonte were then shot and killed in an ambush, police said. Iurato was wounded and has since been released from the hospital.
DeMonte was a 10-year veteran of the Bristol Police Department while Hamzy was an 8-year veteran.
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