Conn. officer killed last week described as dedicated family man, friend
"Anything any of us could have needed, if we asked him for help on something, Alex Hamzy was always there to offer a hand."
By Ted Glanzer
BRISTOL, Conn. — Everyone should have a friend like Alex Hamzy.
The 34-year-old Bristol police officer who, along with Sgt. Dustin DeMonte, was shot and killed, allegedly by Nicholas Brutcher, on Redstone Hill Road late Wednesday night, was remembered by his fellow officers as an all-around great person who gently pushed others to be their best.
“The No. 1 thing about Alex is he was a family man,” one officer* said. “Everything he did was for his family. His core roots were for his family and for his friends. He did everything for them.”
Hamzy’s Bristol roots run deep. He grew up in town, worked in a popular restaurant — the Crystal Diner formerly on Main Street, which was owned by his father — graduated from Bristol Eastern High in 2006 where he played on the football team, and ultimately became a police officer in 2014 after working in construction for several years.
“He was a true, hard-working American,” the officer said. “This is a guy who grew up in the working world, a blue-collar man. He was a steelworker working on buildings in Stamford and New York City. … He always lent his expertise on everything.”
Hamzy also loved cars, with a particular affinity for BMWs.
“He’s got his classic M5 that he just bought,” the officer said. “Anything you could want in a true American man, that’s what he was.”
The officer said Hamzy shared stories of peeling potatoes at 4 a.m. at the diner, or filling in shifts, serving tables or even cooking.
Hamzy loved the Patriots and took part in the police department’s fantasy football league.
“Anything he could to be with his friends and pass on some smack talk with a big smile,” the officer said.
Professionally, having such deep ties to the city was particularly helpful.
“There were consistent calls he would go to and nine times out of 10, the person would recognize him first, like, ‘Hey, aren’t you a Hamzy?’” the officer said. “Or he would say, ‘Hey, I knew your daughter’ or ‘I went to school with your son.’ That always helps with the connection with the public.”
Officers also said Hamzy knew Brutcher and they were connected on social media, though they were not close friends.
In 2016, he earned commendations for two separate incidents: He caught a pair of suspected burglars in Page Park and helped save a 41-year-old man in cardiac arrest.
Hamzy loved Bristol, the officer said.
“He had just bought a rental property a couple months ago next to the hospital,” the officer said.
Outside of work, Hamzy was a loyal, dedicated friend.
“He was the best friend to many. He was everybody’s best friend,” the officer said. “He was in my wedding party. He was in a lot of people’s wedding parties. Just a good [freaking] dude. Not a lot of those around.”
A second officer recalled Hamzy pitching in on a number of home projects — yard work, vehicle or home repairs — and sticking around until the job was done.
“Literally anything any of us could have needed, if we asked him for help on something … even if we didn’t ask him for help, we’d tell him something we had to do, he was always there to offer a hand,” the second officer said. “It wasn’t just like, ‘Oh, I can maybe help out.’ He’d always have awesome input. … He’d take that project over.”
On one project, Hamzy, the second officer and a couple of other guys took on a 16-hour project.
“It turned out to be much bigger than we thought,” the second officer said. “A couple of guys had to leave. But Alex was there the whole time working this excavator, just helping me out to the very end. I’ll always remember that one day and how much he did for me. I was completely shot at the end of the day. Could barely move. And he was still there working hard the whole time. That’s the type of person he was. … He’s always been there for me.”
Hamzy’s assistance didn’t just extend to manual labor.
The second officer went through a divorce this past year, and Hamzy was one of the first people he opened up to.
“He was there on that emotional level,” the second officer said. “You could open up and he’d give you some advice. I’m going to miss him sorely for just being there. … You could count on him for literally anything. He would want you to be better. He wanted you to be the best version of you that you could be. … He really cared for us as friends.”
A third officer, who knew Hamzy for five years, said Hamzy loved being part of a group.
“We’d go back to the locker room and make fun of each other,” he said. “Part of the job is talking to people and dealing with people and their issues. He was the guy our whole group, he’d back up if we needed help. I looked up to many guys when I was starting off. He was more of a street-smart guy than me. He’d see something I wouldn’t see. He’d push us, whether it was working out and saying, ‘Hey you should try this form.’ It’s really about being a teammate. That’s what we’ll miss.”
Hamzy was also one of a handful of officers who regularly attended meetings for the Bristol Police Youth Cadets Program, a youth program designed to provide local adolescents with some instruction and training on law enforcement.
Current Bristol Youth Cadet Capt. Madison Santello, 18, said he was always smiling and laughing at the events. She said he had an infectious laugh.
“Anytime that he started laughing, all of us would just laugh with him,” she said. “He made so many jokes. It was always a pleasure to be around him.”
She said at cadet competitions he would quiz the cadets over the radio on random topics they needed to know. Hamzy was specifically helpful in preparing them for SWAT-related competitions, which they won first place in an officer-down situation for one SWAT competition last year.
“He was always such a good teacher. We felt like we were always bringing home medals under his guidance,” Santello said.
Former cadet Capt. Emma Lewis, 17, said the room would light up whenever Hamzy walked into a meeting.
“Whenever he would walk through the doors, all the cadets would get happy because we knew that there would be a lot of memories made and that he made every learning experience fun,” Lewis said.
Lewis joined the program with an interest in law enforcement but is now studying criminal justice at New Haven University to one day become an officer herself.
She said the two lost officers have made a “huge impact” on her and she saw them as role models.
“These two cops have made an impact on all of our cadets within the program,” Lewis said. “This is a really hard loss on us. We honestly didn’t expect to wake up on a Thursday morning expecting that these two amazing officers lost their lives.”
Hamzy is survived by his wife, Kate, parents and two sisters.
* — The three Bristol officers who were interviewed did so under the condition that their names not be used as they wanted the focus to be on Hamzy.