PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The city of Bristol, Connecticut, is reeling after three officers were ambushed and shot while responding to a domestic call Wednesday night.
Two of those officers, identified as Sgt. Dustin Demonte and Officer Alex Hamzy, succumbed to their injuries. Officer Alec Iurato was severely wounded but has since been released from the hospital.
The gut-wrenching loss is a feeling that retired Providence Deputy Police Chief Paul Kennedy knows all too well.
“My heart is broken for them,” Kennedy told 12 News Thursday evening. “That is the worst nightmare for a police officer and their family.”
Kennedy was there when Officer Steven Shaw was shot and killed by a robbery suspect back in 1994. The officers were searching a home in the capital city when the suspect jumped out of a second-floor closet and ambushed Shaw.
“There’s so many mixed emotions that you go through when something like this occurs,” Kennedy explained. “It shocked the police and it shocked the community.”
“At that point, we hadn’t lost a police officer in over 80 years,” he continued. “There’s this feeling of invincibility, and it’s really a fault feeling because there’s danger everywhere.”
Kennedy also remembers the death of Detective James Allen, who was shot and killed with his own service weapon while interrogating a suspect in 2005.
Both Shaw and Allen were posthumously promoted to detective sergeant and sergeant, respectively.
“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of those officers, that I don’t pray for them and their families,” Kennedy said. “They’re my family now.”
Kennedy said the tragedy in Bristol serves as a terrible reminder of the dangers officers face every single day.
“It saddens me because I know how dedicated police officers are to protecting the community and keeping people safe,” he said. “When something like this happens, it shatters everything.”
To this day, Kennedy has kept in touch with both the Shaw and Allen families.
“No one is more affected than the [families] … this never goes away for them. This never, ever, goes away,” he said.
Moving forward, Kennedy said supporting the Bristol Police Department will be crucial.
“The men and women of that police department are going to need a lot of help,” Kennedy said. “The community is going to be a big part of that.”
Kennedy urged law enforcement officers to take advantage of all of the resources available to them, especially when something tragic happens.
“You have this persona of being the big, tough cop, that nothing affects you,” he said. “Guess what? It affects all of us. We’re human beings first.”
Kennedy said when Shaw died, roughly 8,000 departments from across the country attended his funeral. He expects the services for the officers in Bristol to be no different.
“I guarantee you that police officers from all over the country will flock to Bristol,” he said.
The Providence Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies will be attending the funerals of both officers.