Man who killed 2 Connecticut officers likely fueled by a prior interaction with police, report says

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The ambush killings of two Connecticut police officers was likely fueled by an angry interaction the gunman had with police earlier, along with building pressures in his personal life and his abuse of alcohol and drugs, according to a report released Wednesday by the state’s Inspector General.

The report detailing how Bristol police Sgt. Dustin DeMonte and Officer Alex Hamzy were gunned down in the driveway of a home also found that a third officer who survived the 2022 attack was justified in fatally shooting the gunman, identified by police as Nicholas Brutcher.

Inspector General Robert Devlin’s investigation — required by law in cases of deadly force — describe Brutcher in a downward spiral in the face of mounting debt, his ex-wife’s pregnancy with a former friend, and a scolding by his mother following a traffic stop that evening.

Nevertheless, “It must be emphasized that Nicholas Brutcher is the murderer here,” it said. “It would be wrong to place any blame for the attack on the traffic stop officers or others in Nicholas Brutcher’s life.”

Brutcher made a false call to 911 on the night of Oct. 12, 2022, asking for help with his brother, who he claimed had been acting aggressively since the two were pulled over in a traffic stop after a bar fight earlier that night, the report said.

As DeMonte, Hamzy and Officer Alec Iurato approached Brutcher’s home in response to the call, Brutcher opened fire with an AR-15 style rifle from a hiding spot in some bushes in front of his parents’ house next door, striking all three officers, according to the report. Wearing a camouflage shirt, pants and vest, he then stood over DeMonte and Hamzy where they had fallen and fired dozens more shots at them in front of his horrified parents, Joseph and Catrina Brutcher, who had come outside.

“How proud are you of me? How proud?” Brutcher said as he fired, possibly addressing his parents, according to the report.

His mother’s nonstop screams were caught on police body camera video.

“I don’t think I ever screamed like that before in my life,” Catrina Brutcher told investigators. “My son walked over to one of the officers that was down and just shot him point blank in his head. I was just screaming at him to stop.”

Joseph Brutcher said his son was “in a trance-type thing.”

Iurato, struck in the leg, was able to get away. Bracing himself against a police cruiser, he fired a single shot, striking Brutcher and killing him, the report said.

Friends and relatives said Brutcher had in recent months talked about suicide, describing a morbid side that found its way into a stand-up comedy act that one friend called “dark and tasteless.”

“He told jokes about dead babies, suicide, and disabled persons,” the report said.

The evening had begun at a bar where Brutcher had planned to perform during an open-mic forum, but instead got into a drunken fight with a patron, leading a bartender to call police, according to the report.

After Brutcher and his brother, Nathan, left the bar, officers pulled over their truck and had it towed, saying Nicholas Brutcher was too drunk to drive and Nathan Brutcher had an expired driver’s license. Their mother was called to pick them up. At the scene, she scolded a belligerent Nicholas, an interaction that likely left him feeling humiliated, the report said.

“I was embarrassed and I told him that,” Catrina Brutcher said. “I said, `Nick you’re embarrassing your family; you’re embarrassing our name.’”

Authorities concluded there was not enough evidence to charge Nathan Brutcher, who was struck in the initial round of gunfire.

Nicholas Brutcher fired a total of 83 rounds: 59 from the assault rifle and 24 from a 9 mm handgun, the report said.

“Twenty-four shots landed on Officer Hamzy. Six shots landed on Sergeant DeMonte,” it said.

Brutcher had 14 registered firearms, according to the report, including the assault weapon, now banned in Connecticut. He had purchased the weapon in 2010 and was grandfathered in under the law, but there is no record that he applied for a required certificate of possession or the large capacity magazines in his possession.

His blood alcohol level at .234 was about three times the legal limit to drive, toxicology results showed.

An analysis of his phone suggested that Brutcher was in a “toxic” relationship with a woman, who on the day of the attack told him she may have been pregnant. Information on the phone also indicated he had gotten another woman pregnant, whose due date was in October 2022, around the time of the shooting, the report said.

“The analysis of Nicholas Brutcher’s phone, interviews of family/friends, and a comprehensive review of all collected evidence provided insight into the stressors of Nicholas Brutcher’s life that likely contributed to the ambush attack on officers,” the report said.

DeMonte, 35, was a 10-year veteran officer and co-recipient of his department’s 2019 Officer of the Year award. His wife was expecting their third child at the time of his death.

Hamzy, 34, worked eight years for his hometown police force. Like DeMonte, he was an adviser to a police cadet program.

Iurato joined the Bristol department in 2018.


Thompson reported from Buffalo, New York.

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