Report Details Brutal 2022 Ambush that Killed 2 Conn. Police Officers

June 27, 2024
A report by the state's inspector general suggested motives for a 2022 ambush that killed two Bristol police officers and wounded another, but the real reason for the violence might be unknown.

By Peter Yankowski

Source The Register Citizen, Torrington, Conn.

BRISTOL, CT — Nearly two years after two local police officers were killed and another wounded in an ambush, the state inspector general on Wednesday released his final report that revealed new details about what unfolded that night and suggested potential motives for the deadly attack, but ultimately concluded the real reason may simple be unknown.

Bristol Police Lt. Dustin DeMonte and Sgt. Alex Hamzy were both fatally shot during the incident in October 2022. A third officer, Alec Iurato, was shot in the leg but survived. Wounded, he was able to shoot and kill the gunman, Nicholas Brutcher, after the attacker's gun ran empty.

Connecticut Inspector General Robert Devlin concluded in his 66-page report that Iurato's use of force during the Oct. 12, 2022 incident was justified under state law. Despite the focus on the two officers' killings, Devlin's report outlined four "phases" that unfolded that night leading up to the shooting at the Brutcher family's home.

Bar fight at Bleachers

In the hours before the shooting, Brutcher and his brother, Nathan, went to the local bar, Bleachers, around 7:30 p.m., the report said. Nicholas Brutcher was planning to perform stand-up comedy at the bar's open mic night. But while sitting at the bar, Nicholas Brutcher got into a fight with another patron, the report said. The altercation began when the other patron put his arm around Brutcher, who reacted by elbowing the man in the face, the report said.

The fight then spewed outside into the parking lot and police were called. When officers arrived, witnesses pointed out the Brutcher brothers were driving away, the report said. The other man involved in the fight also told officers he did not want to press charges against Brutcher.

The traffic stop

DeMonte, Hamzy and Iurato were not among the officers who responded to the bar or the traffic stop that night around 8:55 p.m.

One of the officers who arrived pulled over the Brutcher brothers' truck as they were leaving, the report said.

Nathan Brutcher was driving and both men "were highly agitated and making rude remarks to the officers on scene," Devlin noted in the report

Because Nathan Brutcher was driving with a suspended license, the truck was towed. Both men became irate at the officers during the stop, yelling and cursing at them to the point where both were ticketed for creating a public disturbance, the report said.

The Brutchers' mother was asked to come pick them up, but Nicholas Brutcher refused to get in the car and instead left on foot, the report said. Their mother later returned and apologized to one of the officers for her son's behavior and indicated she'd pick him up and bring him home, Devlin said in the report.

The 911 call

After returning home, Nicholas Brutcher placed a 911 call at 10:32 p.m. that lured police to the ambush at his Redstone Hill Road home, the report said.

"After being picked up by his mother and returning home from the traffic stop, Brutcher immediately began putting on his camouflage, preparing his weapons, and within 30 minutes, placed the call to 911 to lure officers to his home," Devlin wrote in the report.

Devlin released the audio of the 911 call during which Nicholas Brutcher claimed his brother needed help and had become aggressive after the traffic stop.

"We got into an altercation with, with patrol officers earlier on in the night and he's just carrying on about it," Nicholas Brutcher told the dispatchers, according to the 911 audio released in the report.

At another point, he claimed Nathan Brutcher had become aggressive with "anybody that he had come in contact with," the transcript of the call reads.

During the call, Brutcher claimed there were no weapons in the home, but police were advised by dispatchers that he had weapons registered to him.

The ambush

When DeMonte, Hamzy, and Iurato arrived at the home, they encountered Nathan Brutcher at a side door and ordered him to come outside, the report said.

As he came outside, Nicholas Brutcher, who was hiding in bushes on an adjacent property, opened fire on the three officers with the AR-15, the report said. All three officers were hit, along with Nathan Brutcher, the report said. Hamzy fell during the hail of gunfire, while DeMonte and Iurato were wounded, but managed to get away.

DeMonte, mortally wounded, went into the rear yard of the home, turned and encountered Brutcher's father, then made his way back to the driveway and collapsed, the report said. Meanwhile, Iurato, who had been shot in the leg, maneuvered behind the homes and radioed for help, the report said. He then made his way to Hamzy's parked cruiser in front of the property.

After the ambush, Nicholas Brutcher emerged from his hiding spot in front of the neighboring home, where his parents lived, and approached the two fallen officers.

"Nicholas Brutcher's parents, who had come outside and in the rear yard of their home, saw what happened next," Devlin wrote in the report. " Nicholas Brutcher proceeded to stand over each officer and fire multiple shots into them — first Sergeant DeMonte and then Officer Hamzy" while his mother screamed at him to stop, the report said.

Brutcher's AR-15 stopped firing after he inserted a magazine backward, the report said. He then drew a handgun and continued firing, the report said.

"During this time, Nicholas Brutcher yelled, 'How proud are you of me? How proud?'" the report said. It's unclear from the report whether the comments were directed at his parents.

Iurato then fired one shot at Brutcher from his position behind Hamzy's cruiser. The bullet struck Brutcher at the base of his skull, killing him, the report said.

Guns recovered

Police seized four guns from the scene — the Stag Arms AR-15, a Remington bolt-action rifle police found in the bushes, a Mossberg 12 gauge shotgun left by the entrance to the home that police found before the shooting and the Glock handgun Brutcher was holding when he was killed. Brutcher, who friends described as a gun enthusiast, purchased the Glock on Dec. 19, 2012, five days after the Sandy Hook shootings, according to the report.

The AR-15 met the legal definition of an assault weapon under state law, according to Devlin's report. While Brutcher purchased the gun legally in 2010, he did not apply for a certificate of possession with the state prior to the deadline in 2014, making the gun illegal for him to possess, the report noted. The large capacity magazines he used in the shooting were also illegal, the report said.

Possible Motive

Devlin's report noted Brutcher fired 83 rounds during the incident and "showed no signs of stopping."

"He posed a grave threat to Officer Iurato and any responding officers," Devil wrote. "It was of paramount importance to stop that threat. Under these circumstances, Iurato's use of deadly force was justified."

The report noted at the time, Nicholas Brutcher was under enormous stress. Brutcher was questioning his sexuality, and he was in the midst of a contentious long-distance relationship with a woman who claimed he may have gotten her pregnant. Another woman was due to give birth to his child that same month. Meanwhile, his ex-wife gave birth that same day to a child she had with another man, who was Brutcher's former friend, the report noted.

Their relationship had caused Brutcher to "spiral downward," Devlin wrote in the report, drinking heavily and taking anti-depressants. An autopsy revealed Brutcher's blood alcohol at the time of the shootings was about three times over the legal limit to drive and he also had THC and cocaine in his system.

"The numerous stressors in Nicholas Brutcher's life, coupled with his heavy substance use, and perceived grievance from the traffic stop, are probable motivations for his subsequent targeted act of violence against the Bristol officers," the inspector general wrote in the report.

"In this regard, it must be emphasized that Nicholas Brutcher is the murderer here," he added.


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